On a New Year's Day full of coaching changes but short on surprises, the Green Bay Packers have now provided the biggest bombshell.
Ted Thompson is transitioning from general manager and director of football operations to senior advisor to football operations, the team announced Tuesday.
Thompson has held his current role since 2005, making his name by selecting Aaron Rodgers with the team's first draft pick that season. Thompson hired coach Mike McCarthy in a surprise move the following year, establishing a foundation for more than a decade of sustained success.
This Packers season, plagued by Rodgers' broken collarbone and a lackluster defense, showed that the talent base on Thompson's roster has eroded some in recent years. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who joined the team in 2009, was fired Monday.
While Thompson sometimes frustrated Packers fans by mostly eschewing free agency and relying on homegrown talent, there were few personnel men with better track records. Left tackle David Bahktiari, defensive tackle Mike Daniels and linebacker Clay Matthews are among Thompson's best picks. (Thompson has been especially good drafting wideouts, with Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams all taken after the first round.)
This change will come as big news around the NFL, but it will hardly cause one of the league's most stable franchises to start over. Thompson isn't even leaving the organization and the Packers have a host of personnel guys in-house as options to replace Thompson, not to mention a phalanx of Thompson acolytes littered throughout the league. Thompson learned his trade under legendary Packers general manager Ron Wolf and it's easy to imagine the general manager job going to Wolf's son Eliot, who is the director of football operations for the team. Director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst and VP of football administration Russ Ball are other options, according to Rapoport.
The Thompson era included nine playoff appearances, a number of painful NFC playoff defeats and one Super Bowl title. The job of the next general manager will be to help Rodgers, Thompson's best draft pick, get back to the big game.