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Contrasting the General Managers Ted Thompson and Brian Gutekunst

Ted Thompson let many players walk and made some questionable draft picks. However, new general maanger Brian Gutekunst isn't afraid to spend money.
Brian Gutekunst

Ted Thompson was the Green Bay Packers general manager for 13 years. During this time, he led the team with a draft and develop mentality. Under Thompson’s leadership, the Packers gained a reputation for conservatively approaching free agency. They basically never signed any high-dollar players, including their own. Thompson let many decent players walk and made some questionable draft picks. Conversely, since the Packers named Brian Gutekunst the new general manager in January of 2018, the team has slowly started to change their conservative spending reputation.

Contrasting Green Bay Packers General Managers Ted Thompson and Brian Gutekunst

Free Agents Thompson Let Walk

Casey Hayward

In 2016, Thompson made the unpopular decision to let defensive back Casey Hayward walk. Cheesehead TV explained how big of a mistake this choice was:

“[Hayward] lit the defense on fire with a near defensive rookie of the year season in his first year, then lost basically his entire [sophomore] campaign to injured reserve and the last two [seasons] mostly as a role/slot defender. It’s interesting that Hayward signed a very modest 3-year $15 million contract that the Packers could have easily matched if they wanted.”

This same year, the Packers signed tight end Jared Cook to a “one-year, $3.6 million contract”. Sure, Cook helped out the offensive, but at this time, the Packers still had Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, and Jordy Nelson. So, the offense may not have been the area that needed attention.

Micah Hyde

Similarly, in 2017, Thompson and the Packers let cornerback Micah Hyde walk. Ian Rapoport reported that the Buffalo Bills signed Hyde and planned to give him $30 million over 5 years with $32.5 million max. and $14 million guaranteed. The Packers simply weren’t willing to shell out the kind of money to keep these defensive stars, at least not under Thompson’s leadership. Both Hayward and Hyde had monster years for their new teams and made the Pro Bowl in 2017, further solidifying the mistake of not re-signing them. Is it any wonder the Packers secondary has been such a disaster? Thompson simply refused to make the necessary investments.

Thompson’s Questionable Draft Picks

In 2007, Thompson made possibly his worst draft pick of all: defensive tackle, Justin Harrell. He only played in 18 games in his four years on the team. Harrell never registered a sack, not one. He also only racked up 18 tackles.

In 2016, Thompson worked way too hard to acquire offensive tackle, Jason Spriggs. The general manager “gave up three draft picks to move up nine spots and select Spriggs.” This pick was yet another disaster, giving up 2.5 sacks and 12 pressures while being penalized seven times in 291 snaps in 2018. Of course, these are only a couple of examples, but looking back at the Packers past draft picks will expose more blunders.

Gutekunst’s Free Agency Splash

New Packers general manager, Brian Gutekunst, made quite the statement in 2019 free agency. He paid special attention to the defense, once of Green Bay’s top struggles. For a grand total of $180 million in contracts, Gutekunst signed edge rusher, Za’Darius Smith, safety, Adrian Amos, linebacker, Preston Smith, and guard Billy Turner. Za’Darius and Preston combined for 77 solo tackles and 25.5 sacks last year.

For the first time in a long time, Green Bay had a real defense. Sure, the Packers haven’t made quite the same splash in 2020 free agency. Even still, Brian Gutekunst has proven that he’s dedicated to making the Packers competitive.

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