Packers name Brian Gutekunst GM, unveil new front-office structure

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have more than just a new general manager -- they have a new structure in their football operation.

Brian Gutekunst, hired Sunday to replace Ted Thompson, will have complete control over the roster but won't have full authority to hire and fire the coach. That now belongs to team president Mark Murphy, the Packers announced Monday.

The Packers also announced that Russ Ball, who was passed over for the GM job, will return and was promoted to executive vice president/football operations. A source told ESPN that Ball received a raise but his duties will remain the same -- negotiating contracts and managing the salary cap, chief among them.

Gutekunst, Ball and coach Mike McCarthy now all report to Murphy.

Even though Murphy said last week that the new general manager would make decisions on the coach, a source said that change was made to improve the dialogue between the personnel department and the coach -- something that had deteriorated of late.

"The process of identifying our next general manager gave us the opportunity to analyze our entire football operation," Murphy said in a statement. "While we have enjoyed a lot of success, we need to improve. With that in mind, the head coach, general manager and executive vice president/director of football operations will report to me moving forward. While I understand this is a departure from the Packers' current structure, it will serve to increase the breadth and frequency of communication and collaboration. Ultimately, it will make the Packers better."

This was Murphy's first major football decision since he was hired in 2008. Former team president Bob Harlan hired Thompson in 2005, and Thompson hired McCarthy a year later.

The 44-year-old Gutekunst signed a five-year deal, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday. McCarthy, who signed a one-year contract extension shortly before the 2017 season ended, is under contract through 2019.

"First, I'd like to thank my mentor, Ted Thompson, for his friendship, and I am happy that we will continue to have the chance to work together," Gutekunst said in a statement announcing his hiring. "I want to thank Ron Wolf for giving me my first opportunity with the Packers, and of course Mark Murphy for the faith and trust he has placed in me moving forward. And finally, I must thank my wife, Jen, and our children for their constant sacrifice and unwavering support despite all of the time I have spent on the road and away from home. I look forward to getting to work with the rest of our talented personnel department and using every avenue available to build the Packers into a championship team again."

The Packers made no mention of Eliot Wolf, the Packers director-football operations, who also interviewed for the GM job.

"At least he had the opportunity to interview for it," Ron Wolf told ESPN on Sunday night in a phone interview from his home in Florida. "Obviously the people up there don't think he's worthy or they would've hired him. End of discussion."

The 35-year-old Wolf remains under contract with the team, but a source said Browns GM John Dorsey would like to bring Wolf to Cleveland. The Packers would have to grant him permission like they did last week with senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith, who was hired by the Browns.

The Packers will introduce Gutekunst at a news conference Monday afternoon.