Packers: Brian Gutekunst is the right choice for general manager

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

The Green Bay Packers made the right call by hiring Brian Gutekunst as the team’s new general manager.

In an ideal world the Packers would have been reunited with John Schneider. But the Seahawks made that almost impossible by denying Green Bay’s interview request.

Realistically, Packers president Mark Murphy had to make a choice between his top three in-house candidates: Gutekunst, Eliot Wolf and Russ Ball.

Ball was considered the frontrunner by many, including Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Rob Demovsky of ESPN. Maybe he was, and Murphy simply changed his mind. We may never know the answer to that question, but all that matters is that Murphy made a good call in the end.

Hiring any of the three would carry some risk. None of the in-house candidates have prior general manager experience to draw from.

But on paper, Gutekunst has all the tools to become a successful GM in Green Bay.

He has drawn interest around the league, and for good reason.

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Gutekunst was a candidate for the 49ers’ vacancy last year, but withdrew his name from the running.

Had he not been offered the job in Green Bay, there’s every chance he would have landed in Houston, where he was scheduled to interview for the Texans’ GM opening, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Gutekunst was going to be a general manager. It was just a matter of where. Murphy made sure it was in Green Bay.

In many ways the Packers are lucky to have him. Albert Beer of The MMQB noted that he “blew the Niners away” in his interview last year. If he had wanted the job, there’s a good chance it was his.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN reported earlier this week that Gutekunst had also impressed in his interview with the Packers, as had Wolf.

What this move means is that the Packers’ general manager comes from a scouting background. That wouldn’t have been the case had Ball taken over.

The Packers will want Ball to stay in Green Bay. His expertise is on the financial side, which is evident with the team’s ever-healthy salary cap. With Gutekunst taking full control of the roster and Ball continuing his excellent work with the contracts, the Packers could have a strong pairing.

Wolf will almost certainly move on to a GM role in the coming years, but Gutekunst is trying to convince him to stay, as Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

If Wolf departs, Ball could become the Packers’ assistant general manager, Silverstein also noted.

Until Gutekunst actually gets going, it’s impossible to say what kind of general manager he will be. But it’s fair to assume he will be more willing to sign free agents than Thompson was, especially with Aaron Rodgers turning 35 next year. Time will tell whether that proves to be the case.

What we know is that Gutekunst has earned respect around the league, which is evident by the number of teams interested in hiring him.

Having spent almost two decades in Green Bay, Gutekunst has developed his craft under Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson.

The Packers needed to make a change, and Gutekunst is likely the best candidate not named John Schneider.

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He has the potential to help rebuild the defense and hand Mike McCarthy a roster ready to become serious Super Bowl contenders once more.