Ted Thompson, the man who drafted Aaron Rodgers, hired coach Mike McCarthy and built a Super Bowl champion, will no longer be in charge of the Green Bay Packers' personnel department, the team announced Tuesday.
The Packers said that Thompson will remain as senior adviser to football operations, and they will begin an "immediate search" for their next general manager.
The Packers have four strong internal candidates in Russ Ball, Brian Gutekunst, Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf, but the search also is expected to include outside candidates. That could include former Packers scouts Reggie McKenzie and John Schneider. McKenzie and Schneider, however, are general managers with the Raiders and Seahawks, respectively, and the Packers likely would have to make a trade if they wanted one of those candidates.
Highsmith, meanwhile, has been given permission by the Packers to interview with at least one other team, a source said. He will interview with Browns GM John Dorsey for a position as a top adviser, as the Green Bay Press-Gazette first reported. Dorsey, a former personnel executive with the Packers, was hired by the Browns last month.
After Schneider, a native of nearby De Pere, Wisconsin, signed an extension last year with the Seahawks that runs through 2021, he told reporters that his new deal with Seattle does not include an out clause that would allow him to leave for the Packers' front office. (He didn't confirm or deny a report that his previous contract with Seattle included such a clause.)
"I want to thank Ted for his tireless efforts as the general manager of the Green Bay Packers for these past 13 seasons. Under his guidance, the Packers enjoyed a remarkable run of success, one that included our 13th world championship, four NFC Championship appearances and eight consecutive postseason berths," Packers president Mark Murphy said in a statement Tuesday.
"On a personal note, Ted's work ethic, humility and loyalty are nearly unparalleled, and it has been one of the great honors of my life to work beside him," Murphy said.
"It's been a great honor to serve as the Green Bay Packers' general manager for the past 13 years," Thompson said in the statement. "I look forward to supporting this team in my new role as we strive to win another championship."
Thompson, 64, has been in charge of the Packers' football operations since 2005. His first draft pick was Rodgers. Thompson then fired Mike Sherman as head coach after the 2005 season and hired McCarthy. Together, they won Super Bowl XLV, the Packers' first title since Super Bowl XXXI.
A former linebacker for the Houston Oilers, Thompson broke into scouting with the Packers under Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf in 1992. He stayed with the Packers until 2000, when he left to join former Packers coach Mike Holmgren with the Seahawks. He served as Seattle's vice president of football operations until 2005, when former Packers president Bob Harlan hired him as the Packers' general manager.
Thompson curtailed his scouting schedule in recent years after hip replacement surgery and delegated more authority to his deputies. Ball, the Packers' chief contract negotiator, took on many of Thompson's administrative duties. Ball is viewed as one of the leading candidates to take over for Thompson despite having a background in finance and not player evaluation. If Ball gets the job, the Packers could pair one of their top scouts -- Gutekunst, Wolf or Highsmith -- with Ball. However, the Packers could lose any or all of those scouts if they're bypassed for the GM job.
This will be the first football hire for Murphy, who became president in 2008. Because the publicly owned Packers don't have a traditional owner, Murphy is head of the team's seven-member executive committee. Murphy informed the committee Monday that the team would conduct a search for a new GM.
ESPN's Brady Henderson contributed to this report.