The Green Bay Packers quietly made one of the biggest moves of the offseason in early March, re-signing three main pieces that keep the franchise in the hunt for another championship.
The Packers have extended contracts for coach Matt LaFleur, general manager Brian Gutekunst, and executive vice president/director of football operations Russ Ball. Although Green Bay did not disclose their salaries, we know that these guys aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Many fans believe Brett Favre didn’t win more than one championship in Green Bay because Mike Holmgren left to coach the Seattle Seahawks in 1998. Successful teams typically maintain a core of players around one coach. Potentially losing your coach could make or break the future of the franchise.
To illustrate why continuity matters, look at the teams with constant coaching turnover. The teams with the most head coaches since 2010 are the Cleveland Browns (six), and the Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Las Vegas Raiders (five). Besides Denver during the Peyton Manning farewell tour, none have found success. And the Broncos have been reeling since that Super Bowl win against the Carolina Panthers in 2016. They have won no more than seven games in a season since 2016.
Keeping a coach around who has won 13 games a year in his first three seasons as a head coach seems like a no-brainer. LaFleur’s ability to create plays that confuse defenses and generally dominate teams during the regular season makes him one of the best coaches in the league. Although he has not had the playoff success many fans have hoped for, LaFleur’s future is still bright.
Gutekunst briefly fell out of favor with some fans due to his rocky relationship with Aaron Rodgers. However, Gutekunst has made some of the smartest moves in the league since taking over for longtime general manager Ted Thompson in 2018. Since he became GM of the Packers, the team has won over 69% of its games. They have also made it to the playoffs every year except for his first.
Gutekunst often makes moves that may not immediately impact but help create a brighter future. That includes drafting A.J. Dillon when the Packers had Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Or it could be when he took Eric Stokes late in the first round, even though the Packers still had Jaire Alexander and Kevin King. Now the Packers have gone from having a good rushing attack and cornerback group to arguably the best cornerback group and one-two punch in the league running the football.
Gutekunst also has a nose for talent where other general managers may not see it. The Packers added De’Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas last year in free agency. Both players made an immense impact for the defense, with Campbell making first-team All-Pro honors and Rasul Douglas getting five interceptions (which ties him for fourth most in the NFL) and two defensive touchdowns. Now both players are locked down with new contracts and will play major roles in the Packers’ defense for the foreseeable future.
Ball does not get nearly enough credit as the main man for keeping the Packers under the salary cap. He has been in his position of vice president/director of football operations since 2018, coming in with Gutekunst. Ball is one of the best at what he does: working wizardry with the salary cap.
These three re-signings are indications of a bright future for the Packers. Having the most important front office and coaching positions taken care of will create continued success beyond Aaron Rodgers’ time with the Packers — and likely well beyond every other player on the roster.