GREEN BAY — Mike McCarthy will head into next season with the security of a one-year contract extension and the vow of Green Bay Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy that he’ll definitely be the team’s coach in 2018.
Even though Murphy said Tuesday that the Packers’ next general manager will have final say on the hiring or firing of the head coach, Murphy insisted that McCarthy will coach the Packers next season, which would be McCarthy’s 13th in charge. The Packers went 7-9 this season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008, but nine of McCarthy’s 12 teams have reached the postseason.
“Mike is our man. He is our coach,” Murphy said Tuesday at a news conference to discuss the team’s GM opening following Ted Thompson’s move to a lesser role as senior advisor to football operations. “We have all the confidence in the world in Mike; we’re going to have great success moving forward. So, yeah, he will be our coach.”
Earlier in the news conference, however, Murphy did say that the new GM would have the power to hire and fire the coach, just as Thompson did starting in 2005 and Ron Wolf did from 1991 through 2001. Although the Packers could decide to hire a new GM who is not from the Wolf tree, it seems unlikely that the team would do that. If a Wolf disciple does get the job — whether it’s an internal candidate or one of Wolf’s proteges who went on to become a GM elsewhere, such as Seattle’s John Schneider or Oakland’s Reggie McKenzie — it’s unlikely that the new boss would dismiss McCarthy.
Murphy confirmed what ESPN.com reported earlier Tuesday and an NFL source confirmed to the State Journal, that the Packers had signed McCarthy to a one-year contract extension during the season. Believed to have been in December, the deal extended McCarthy through the 2019 season and prevented him from being a lame-duck coach next year.
“Ted made the decision and I was involved as well,” Murphy said. “During the season, we gave Mike a one-year extension.”
That extension wouldn’t preclude a new GM from hiring a new head coach after next season, however. In 2005, after then-president/CEO Murphy stripped him of his GM title and hired Thompson to run the football operation, the Packers and Thompson gave coach Mike Sherman a two-year contract extension that ran through the 2007 season. Sherman, of course, was fired after the Packers went 4-12 in 2005, Thompson’s first year as GM.
McCarthy is expected to hold his annual after-the-season news conference this week.
More changes coming
In addition to firing defensive coordinator Dom Capers, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac and inside linebackers coach Scott McCurley — moves that multiple NFL sources have confirmed but the Packers have not yet announced — there are expected to be more staff changes in the coming days.
An NFL source said offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett, who has held that post since 2015, will not return in that role, although it’s unclear whether Bennett could stay on in another role. The Packers are losing wide receivers coach Luke Getsy to Mississippi State, where he’ll be the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator and receivers coach, and Bennett coached the Packers’ receivers from 2011 through 2014. Before that, Bennett, a running back for the Packers from 1992 through 1997, coached his old position from 2001 through 2010.
Another source said linebackers coach Winston Moss, who is set to interview for the Detroit Lions’ head-coaching job, is also not expected to return. Moss has been on the Packers’ staff since McCarthy arrived in 2006 and remained even after McCarthy fired defensive coordinator Bob Sanders after the 2008 season and hired Capers.
Senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith, one of Thompson’s top scouting lieutenants, plans to leave the Packers for a position in the Cleveland Browns’ front office, an NFL source confirmed. Highsmith, who joined the Packers in 1999 as a college scout, will join ex-Packers executive John Dorsey, who became the Browns’ general manager last month.
Dorsey, who spent much of his time with the Packers as the team’s director of college scouting, worked with Highsmith in Green Bay for 13 years before leaving in 2012 to become the Kansas City Chiefs’ GM. Highsmith might have been an internal candidate to replace Thompson, but Murphy said that the team would not hold back anyone from finding a position with another team.“If it’s a great opportunity for somebody, I don’t want to hold them back,” Murphy said. “But also, (I would) let them know that we’re going to move quickly and if they’re a candidate here, I want to make sure they know that the timing is such that hopefully they’ll look and see that this could be a good opportunity as well.”
Kumerow, others signed
The Packers signed five members of their practice squad to futures contracts Tuesday: Former UW-Whitewater wide receiver Jake Kumerow, wide receiver Colby Pearson, wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey, tight end Robert Tonyan, long-snapper Zach Triner.
Kumerow spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons on the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad and part of this season on Cincinnati’s and New England’s practice squads before joining the Packers’ squad on Dec. 26.
“It’s a little different. Putting on the green-and-gold is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid,” said Kumerow, who grew up in northern Illinois. “Being here is a pretty awesome feeling. You feel cool walking into the Green Bay organization, definitely.”