Packers aim to keep Ted Thompson

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- More than a year after Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy said it was "a priority" to get quarterback Aaron Rodgers a long-term contract extension, he used the same phrase to describe the plan for general manager Ted Thompson.

Although Thompson is under contract through the 2016 draft, Murphy put the same emphasis on retaining him that he did on his quarterback shortly before Rodgers signed his $110 million extension last April.

"It's a top priority," Murphy said Thursday during a session to discuss the team's annual financial report. "I think Ted's been instrumental obviously in the run we've had. So that is a real priority."

Shortly after he completed his 10th draft as the Packers' top personnel man in May, the 61-year-old Thompson said he had no plans to retire in the foreseeable future. Murphy said Thompson has conveyed the same message to him.

Rodgers' contract extension, combined with the $66 million deal linebacker Clay Matthews also signed last April, helped the Packers' player costs hit a record-high in the last fiscal year.

According to figures released by the team Thursday, they spent $171 million in player costs (including salaries and benefits). That was an increase of $35 million from the previous fiscal year, which ends March 31.

Also factoring into the high cost for this past year were contracts signed by cornerback Sam Shields and pass-rusher Julius Peppers shortly after free agency opened in March.

"It's the timing in terms of contracts that just came in during the beginning of this fiscal year [and] just missed last year," Murphy said. "And then we had some that came in at the end of this fiscal year."

The Packers' previous high for player costs was $155 million in 2012.

"It will level off," Packers treasurer Mark McMullen said. "I think you've got to look at two or three years, and it will go back down this year, and the [salary] cap is also going up at the same time."

The Packers saw an increase in total revenue of $16 million to $324.1 million, but their expenses increased by $44.8 million to $298.5 million. That resulted in a net profit of $25.6 million, down from $54.3 million the previous year.

Part of the increase in expenses also was due to the new football training facilities -- including a new indoor practice field and expanded weight room and nutrition centers. Those were part of an ongoing expansion project that also included the addition of 7,000 new seats in the south end zone, which opened last season, and an expanded atrium that will include a new team store that is expected to help the Packers battle the Cowboys for the highest-grossing team merchandise shop, plus an expanded Hall of Fame and restaurant currently under construction.

"It was again another strong financial year," Murphy said. "I think continued strong performance by the team on the field and obviously the fan support has been very helpful. That projected or propelled us to another all-time high in terms of revenue."

The Packers also continue to explore ways to expand what they call the Titletown district, made up of land surrounding the stadium that the team continues to acquire.

McMullen also said the team's reserve fund increased by $30 million to $284 million.

And, of course, anytime Murphy speaks, the subject of Brett Favre comes up. While Murphy said he believes the relationship between the team and its former quarterback remains strong, there are no plans to retire Favre's jersey this coming season.

However, Murphy would not rule out the possibility that Favre could return for a game this season. The two sides had discussed a possible return last season, but ESPNWisconsin.com reported recently that Favre pulled out in part because he was afraid of the reaction he might receive from the Lambeau Field crowd.

"That is an issue," Murphy said. "He doesn't want it, and neither do we. He wouldn't want to come back and get booed. You can't control 80,750 people. I really think as time goes on, every year that passes, it's less likely that he would get booed, but that is an issue."