GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Green Bay Packers have officially announced the hiring of Brian Gutekunst as the 10th general manager of the team.
"It's a great day for the Packers," said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy during a news conference Monday.
Murphy called his new GM a rising star in the NFL who is an "excellent evaluator of talent."
"I've been impressed with Brian for a number of years. I think he's a natural leader," Murphy said.
Murphy also announced Monday the promotion of Russ Ball to executive vice president and director of football operations.
This is also a promotion for Gutekunst, a longtime scout. He said being the leader of the Packers is his "dream job."
"This is an amazing place. There's a standard of excellence here that's been here for a long long time," Gutekunst told the media.
Gutekunst takes over for Ted Thompson, who was moved to an advisory role after the team's 7-9 season.
Gutekunst called Thompson a mentor and friend. The new GM said there would be some differences in the way he leads the team.
"Those are big shoes to fill. I will lead in my own personality. Probably a little bit more aggressive in certain areas. We’re not going to leave any stone unturned in every avenue of player acquisition," Gutekunst said.
The new GM says he has a great relationship with McCarthy and respect for the coach.
Murphy announced a change in the team's organizational structure. Gutekunst, Ball, and Coach Mike McCarthy will "report directly" to Murphy.
This decision, Murphy says, was based on past issues with communication and a need for the CEO to be more involved in the team. The four will meet on a weekly basis, but Murphy says he will not make "football decisions."
Gutekunst will have control over the roster, draft picks, and free agency.
Ball will oversee the salary cap and contract negotiations.
Gutekunst says there's a "substantial" amount of work to be done to turn things around after this losing season, but he believes the work will be done quickly.
"There's certain areas that needed to play better. We're still in the process of dissecting that and moving forward," Gutekunst.
Murphy confirmed that the team interviewed four candidates for the job, three of them internal.
Gutekunst, Eliot Wolf, and Russ Ball were the internal candidates. ESPN reporter and Cover 2 contributor Rob Demovsky says the outside candidate was former Bills GM Doug Whaley.
Murphy praised Wolf's future in the NFL. "He's going to be a general manager some day. He's extremely talented, I really believe he's got a great career ahead of him," Murphy said.
Cover 2 On the Clock's panel of experts weighed in on the hiring of Gutekunst. Click here for the Cover 2 reaction story.
“Someone high up in the organization told me over the weekend John Schneider would be a grand slam but Brian Gutekunst is a home run. Gutekunst, I’m told, knocked it out of the park in his interview," said ESPN's Rob Demovsky. "(He) was the most complete candidate in terms of on the pro and the college side. Eliot (Wolf) is very good on the pro side but (he’s) young. He’ll eventually get there on the college side…Another person around the league told me that Brian Gutekunst is the next John Schneider and that’s what everyone thinks of him around the league.”