Brian Gutekunst

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Latest On Packers’ QB Situation, Draft Plan

The person most familiar with the situation in which Aaron Rodgers now finds himself, Brett Favre said his former successor was surprised the Packers traded up for Jordan Love in Round 1. Favre also expects Rodgers to finish his career with another team.

Rodgers has four years remaining on his Packers contract, one agreed to in 2018, and has said on multiple occasions he would like to play into his 40s. The two-time MVP will turn 37 in December.

I’m not going to talk about all that we talked about, but he was … let’s just say surprised that they went in that direction,” Favre said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast (via ESPN.com). “… I think he’ll play somewhere else.

My gut tells me no,” Favre said of Rodgers finishing his career in Green Bay. “I don’t know this for certain, but I guarantee you, it’s got the wheels turning in Aaron’s mind. If that’s the case, then that means there’s a chip on his shoulder toward the organization that otherwise was not there. All he needs is a reason other than this reason to expedite that.”

GM Brian Gutekunst, who was with the Packers as a scout when predecessor Ted Thompson drafted a falling Rodgers at No. 24 overall in 2005, determined Love’s long-term potential was more valuable than picking a player who could help the 2020 Packers, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes.

Gutekunst did not expect Love to fall into the mid-20s and told NBC Sports’ Peter King the Packers had him rated too highly on their board to pass. The Packers had “significant intel” a team with an early-second-round pick was targeting Love, per King. While that may have been the case, no team appeared interested in taking Love late in Round 1.

As a result of this and some surprising choices as the draft progressed, the Packers have the same wide receiver depth chart — excluding UDFAs — they did coming into the virtual event. Rodgers and some other members of the Packers organization were “enamored” with LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson, per Demovsky. Jefferson ended up going to the Vikings at No. 22. And the Packers stunned most by exiting a stacked receiver draft without selecting one.

Gutekunst told King the Packers targeted two receivers in Round 2 and made attempts to trade up with several teams. After both were picked, they ended up selecting running back A.J. Dillon at No. 62. Tee Higgins (Bengals), Michael Pittman Jr. (Colts), Laviska Shenault (Jaguars), K.J. Hamler (Broncos), Chase Claypool (Steelers), Van Jefferson (Rams) and Denzel Mims (Jets) went off the board between Nos. 33 and 59.

The Packers received historically poor production from their pass-catcher group last season. For the first time since 1977, Green Bay had just one player (Davante Adams) record more than 500 receiving yards (excluding the 1982 strike-shortened season).

They don’t draft any weapons — not just in the first round but any weapons that can help immediately, to my knowledge. And that just sends a disrespectful message to Aaron Rodgers,” Favre said. “He has every right to be disappointed if he is.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers HC, GM On Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love

The Packers caused quite a stir on Thursday night when they traded up to the No. 26 overall pick to select polarizing Utah State QB Jordan Love. Right away, the NFL world was buzzing about what the move means for Aaron Rodgers‘ future and — perhaps just as importantly — how Rodgers would react.

Head coach Matt LaFleur was asked about those issues on Saturday, and as expected, he tried to downplay the drama as much as possible.

“Aaron is a pro, and he’s the leader of our football team, and I anticipate that for a really long time,” LaFleur said (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). “I have so much respect for him not only as a player but the person, and some of the stuff that nobody sees. So I can’t tell you how much I like working with him.”

LaFleur, though, declined to say what he meant by “a really long time.” Rodgers, 36, is under contract through the 2023 season, and while he experienced something of a decrease in production in 2019, he was still effective and continues to look the part of a top-tier signal-caller. He has yet to speak publicly on the Love pick, but given that Green Bay made an aggressive move to select his potential successor and did little to upgrade his cadre of pass catching weapons, you can be sure that he is none too pleased.

Of course, Love is now in a very similar situation to the one that Rodgers was in when A-Rod was selected in the first round of the 2005 draft: a surprise pick who will be groomed behind a curmudgeonly legend with the unenviable task of ultimately replacing said legend. It obviously worked out for Rodgers, but we probably won’t know how it will work out for Love for a couple of years.

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst was also asked about a potential Rodgers-to-Love succession. “The reason that back when we moved from Brett [Favre] to Aaron was because of what Aaron had done his first three years here, and that’s got to happen with Jordan,” Gutekunst said. “He has to be able to do the work and he has to do that for us to make us believe that he can be a starting quarterback in the National Football League. We drafted him in the first round, we certainly think he has that kind of talent. But that’s not enough in the National Football League. You’ve got to work, you’ve got to earn it, you’ve got to become a good enough player.”

Rodgers is scheduled to carry a cap charge of over $39MM in 2022. Although Green Bay would have to absorb a significant dead money hit by releasing him prior to that season, it would also save about $22MM of cap space by doing so. So if Love progresses as the Packers hope, it would not be surprising to see them make the same difficult, but possibly necessary, transition at that time.

“Again, we have one of the best to ever lace them up, and we’re shooting for championships for as long as he’s here, and we expect him to be here for quite a while,” Gutekunst said. His definition of “quite a while,” and LaFleur’s definition of “a long time,” may be about the same: two years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Notes: Draft, Williams, Funchess

While this year’s virtual draft will naturally lead to some challenges, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst still expects to be active in trade talks throughout the weekend.

“I don’t think there’s going to be too much of an issue, certainly not from our end,” Gutekunst said (via Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com).

“I think we’ll be able to be as aggressive as we need to be. I like to move around. I think it’s a very good draft. I’d like to move around and get to the areas of the draft I think are strong.”

Gutekunst also mentioned that the team would consider moving up in the first round “if we need to.” The Packers highest pick is currently No. 30, which is one of the organization’s 10 selections.

The Packers have been connected to a number of first-round-caliber prospects, including defensive tackle Raekwon Davis. While they’ve been mentioned as a suitor for quarterbacks like Jordan Love, the team isn’t prioritizing the position in the upcoming draft.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Green Bay…

  • Tramon Williams remains a free agent, but it doesn’t sound like the Packers are in any rush to re-sign the veteran cornerback. Gutekunst told reporters that they’ll evaluate Williams’ fit on the roster after the draft. “If that fits once we get through the draft then we’ll certainly make it happen if we can,” Gutekunst said (via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky on Twitter). After spending nearly a decade with the Packers to start his career, Williams returned to Green Bay in 2018. He’s appeared in all 32 regular season games over the past two seasons, including a 2019 campaign where he had eight passes defended and a pair of interceptions.
  • Wide receiver Devin Funchess still hasn’t “completely” passed his physical, Gutekunst told reporters (via Demovsky). “There’s still a portion of it that he’ll have to kind of get through once hopefully this clears up or we’re able find another way to do it,” Gutekunst said. The Packers have already announced the deal, which is a one-year pact worth as much as $6.25MM. After hauling in 63 receptions for 840 yards and eight scores in 2017, the 25-year-old has only collected 54 receptions for 844 yards and nine touchdowns over the past two years (31 games).
  • Gutekunst isn’t particularly worried about any of the technical glitches during the league’s mock draft. “We got a lot of answers,” Gutekunst said (via the team’s website). “That was the big thing, getting through this and finding out the answers how we really want to do this.”

NFC North Notes: Packers, Lions, Vikings

The Packers tried to hire Ravens scout Milt Hendrickson last year, but then-GM Ozzie Newsome blocked the move. Last month, Green Bay was rumored to have a more successful approach lined up. On Tuesday, Hendrickson and the Packers reached an agreement that will bring him to Wisconsin with a promotion. A Ravens scout for 14 years, Hendrickson will become the Packers’ director of football operations, Michael Cohen of The Athletic tweets. This was Eliot Wolf‘s title before he relocated to Cleveland. Hendrickson and Packers GM Brian Gutekunst have been friends for more than 20 years, per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who adds it is believed Hendrickson allowed his Ravens contract to expire so he could join Gutekunst with the Packers. Prior to Newsome hiring Hendrickson in 2005, Gutekunst helped him land a scouting internship with the Packers. Hendrickson served as a regional and national scout with the Ravens. He will join co-directors of player personnel Jon-Eric Sullivan and John Wojciechowski as top Gutekunst assistants in the Green Bay front office.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • Six-season Jaguars special teams staffer Mike Mallory interviewed for ST positions with the Packers, Silverstein notes, adding the Packers are talking to two other candidates as well — possibly to fill two ST positions. Mallory served as Jacksonville’s head ST coach from 2013-16 before the team hired Joe DeCamillis to serve in that role. The Jags kept Mallory on as DeCamillis’ assistant the past two years.
  • On the subject of this division’s special teams leaders, the Lions announced they are bringing back John Bonamego as their ST coordinator. Bonamego left the Lions after the 2014 season to take over as head coach of his alma mater, Central Michigan. However, the Chippewas fired him after the 2018 campaign. He was previously Detroit’s ST boss from 2013-14. Interestingly, he was Mallory’s predecessor as Jaguars ST coordinator. He also served in this role for the Packers, Saints and Dolphins since 2003. The Lions fired Joe Marciano as their ST coordinator midseason.
  • While the Vikings again selected a cornerback in the first round last year in Mike Hughes, perhaps their offensive line needs should have won out. In an ESPN.com redraft, Courtney Cronin wrote Bears interior lineman James Daniels would have been the better choice (ESPN+ link). Daniels became a full-time starter with the Bears as a second-round rookie, being a first-string presence in Chicago’s final 10 regular-season games. ESPN also gave the Lions a different offensive lineman with their first pick, Michael Rothstein pulling the trigger on Giants guard Will Hernandez instead of Frank Ragnow.

Coaching Notes: Packers, Bucs, Broncos

Despite Pat Fitzgerald emphatically proclaiming he was staying at Northwestern following Monday night’s Holiday Bowl win, the Packers are still going to make an attempt to interview him, Tom Silverstein and Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report. The Packers were expected to reach out with an interview request, with GM Brian Gutekunst expressing great admiration for the Northwestern coach and Packers president Mark Murphy having hired Fitzgerald when he was at Northwestern, but nothing has transpired yet. The 13-year Wildcats leader said Northwestern was “not going anywhere” and Chicago was “home forever.” Mike McCarthy made more than $8MM last season, according to Silverstein and Owczarski, who suspect the Packers may have to offer at least that — despite Fitzgerald having never coached in the NFL — to entice the 44-year-old college coach. The Packers have thus far requested interviews with Josh McDaniels, Mike Munchak, Dan Campbell, Matt LaFleur and Brian Flores.

Here is the latest from the coaching front on New Year’s Day:

  • The Buccaneers will have a chance to interview Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards. The parties will meet Thursday for a head coach meeting, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Thus far on the coaching carousel, Edwards — the Vikings’ DC for the past five seasons and formerly the Bills’ and Redskins’ DC — has only been connected to Tampa Bay’s vacancy.
  • Gary Kubiak may well be returning to the sideline, in a non-HC capacity. Kubiak stepped down from his role as the Broncos‘ head coach after the 2016 season, citing health concerns, but John Elway said his longtime friend may end up as part of Denver’s 2019 offensive staff. “We’ll see. We’re still in that process,” Elway said. “We still have a lot of things to go over before that, but I think it could be where it is, it could be on the offensive side [as a coach]. We’ll see what that role may be, but Gary will be around.” Kubiak has worked in the Broncos’ front office the past two years. Denver is expected to interview Vic Fangio, Flores and Chuck Pagano (while also set to meet with Rams QBs coach Zac Taylor and Steelers OL coach Mike Munchak). Going defense for a second straight hire would point to Kubiak being in line to take over as offensive coordinator.
  • Dan Quinn‘s Falcons staff continues to undergo changes. The Falcons have parted ways with tight ends coach Wade Harman, multiple sources tell Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. Harman had served in this role for four seasons and had been with the Falcons for five, operating as Atlanta’s offensive line coach in 2014.
  • The Bills‘ offensive line coach and run-game coordinator the past two years, Juan Castillo received his walking papers on Tuesday, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. Castillo has worked on both sides of the ball, serving as the Eagles’ DC from 2011-12 before shifting back to offense in his roles since.
  • Despite going 4-12, the 49ers will not shake up their staff. Robert Saleh will stay on as San Francisco’s DC, doing so after his unit set NFL records for fewest interceptions (two) in a season and takeaways (seven) in a season. Kyle Shanahan said (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle) his entire staff will be back in 2019.

Aaron Rodgers Won’t Be Part Of Packers’ Coaching Search

After firing their longest-tenured coach since Curly Lambeau, the Packers will enter a hiring period with a high-profile vacancy.

While Green Bay’s next head coach will be tasked with recharging the Aaron Rodgers-led team and maximizing the championship potential created by the quarterback’s employment, the two-time MVP will not be part of the Packers’ coaching search, team president Mark Murphy said Monday (via Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com, on Twitter).

Obviously, he’s free to provide input and talk to us,” Murphy said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “But he’s not going to be a part of the process. … The other thing I would say, Aaron was no part at all in the decision to move on from Mike (McCarthy).”

Murphy will be the one making the hire, not GM Brian Gutekunst, though Murphy said he obviously will not pick a coach with whom the soon-to-be second-year GM is uncomfortable. Gutekunst will be “actively involved” in the search, however (Twitter links via Wilde).

Gutekunst, Russ Ball and McCarthy each reported to Murphy this year in the Packers’ post-Ted Thompson-era arrangement. It appears that power structure will not change entering a crucial time for the franchise.

Interim head coach Joe Philbin will be a legitimate candidate, per Murphy (via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein, on Twitter). Rehired as offensive coordinator this offseason, Philbin was Green Bay’s OC during the team’s most recent Super Bowl title season and finished that stint in Rodgers’ 2011 MVP slate prior to becoming the Dolphins’ HC. But the two-stint Packers assistant landing the top job would obviously be an upset.

The Packers fired McCarthy early to dive into the search process early, but Murphy won’t be hiring a coach before the season ends, per Silverstein (on Twitter). While the Packers are mired in their most disappointing season in more than a decade, Rodgers (via Silverstein, on Twitter) doesn’t view the team as entering a rebuild. Prior to a Rodgers injury leading to the end of the Packers’ playoff streak last season, the franchise had qualified for the previous eight NFC brackets. At 4-7-1, the Packers are now a long shot to make that nine in 10 years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions To Mike McCarthy’s Firing

Immediately after their shocking home loss to the Cardinals, the Packers fired coach Mike McCarthy. While McCarthy was widely believed to be on the hot seat, it’s still somewhat of surprise the team made the move in-season because of his winning history with the team. The move could have a massive ripple effect on the rest of the league, and reactions and opinion pieces immediately began pouring in.

We’ve compiled the most interesting observations and responses below:

  • Assuming the Jets fire Todd Bowles, McCarthy should be at the top of the list in New York’s coaching search, argues Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Vacchiano writes that McCarthy is “exactly what the Jets need”, and thinks that the Jets’ next coach needs to be someone like McCarthy, who is used to being in the spotlight, in order to handle the intense media pressure of being the Jets’ coach. Vacchiano thinks McCarthy would be a nice fit with Sam Darnold, and compares him to Andy Reid, who was fired after a long run in Philadelphia and has gone on to have great success with the Chiefs. It’s not the best comparison since Reid has been widely hailed for his innovation while McCarthy has been criticized for being overly-conservative, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Jets are interested.
  • Because of the new structure of the Packers’ organization, it’ll be team CEO Mark Murphy who is making the call on who to hire as McCarthy’s replacement and not GM Brian Gutekunst, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. While Florio thinks Gutekunst will have a role in the process, it’ll be Murphy making the final call now, which is a change for the team. Previously, GM Ted Thompson would’ve had the decision making authority in situations like this. For what it’s worth, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets that the decision to fire McCarthy was a joint one made by both Murphy and Gutekunst.
  • The move to fire McCarthy before the end of the season was “almost unprecedented”, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Schefter notes that this is just the second time in league history where a Super Bowl winning coach was let go in the middle of the year, with the only other time being when the Colts fired Don McCafferty in 1972. It underscores how surprising it was that they didn’t wait until after the season out of respect for McCarthy, and helps explain why McCarthy was reportedly blindsided by the decision.
  • The team made the right call letting McCarthy go early, according to Pete Dougherty of Packersnews.com. Dougherty argues that it’ll give the Packers a head start in their search for a new coach, and as such give them a leg up on all the other teams who will be looking for a new coach. Dougherty also writes that “former general manager Ted Thompson would never have done it during the season and might never have let McCarthy go” at all.
  • Ryan Wood of Packersnews.com took a look back at the McCarthy-era, and ranked the highs and lows of his tenure. Among the highs, of course, was the Super Bowl victory, as well as a streak of eight years in a row of making the playoffs, while the lows include today’s loss to the Cardinals and the history of losing in the NFC Championship game.

NFC Notes: Dez, Seahawks, McCarthy

Saints WR Dez Bryant suffered a brutal blow when he tore his Achilles just two days after signing with the club, thereby shelving him for about eight months. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) noted that Bryant’s recovery timeline could make his 2019 foray into free agency just as complicated as his 2018 one, though RapSheet does report in a separate piece that the Saints are open to bringing Bryant back next season (which Jay Glazer of FOX Sports [video link] also hears). Rapoport also says that Saints head coach Sean Payton fully expects Bryant to continue his playing career, and that Saints players quickly got to know Bryant and were stung by the injury (Twitter link). Given that, and given that Bryant made a concerted effort to improve his route running this offseason, perhaps he will still end up playing for New Orleans.

Let’s round up a few more items from the NFC:

  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com details (via Twitter) the $500K in incentives (all tied to receptions) that were built in to Bryant’s contract with the Saints, which is obviously a moot point now. Earlier today, Schefter reported that the Saints are expected to pursue Brandon Marshall now that Bryant is on IR.
  • Rapoport writes that, when the Seahawks are sold to a new owner, the beneficiary of the transaction will be the Paul G. Allen Foundation, which consolidated the causes of recently-deceased owner Paul Allen. That means that the proceeds of the sale — which could exceed $2.5 billion — will be going to charity. As of now, Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, has taken more of a visible role in team operations, but the club is still expected to be sold (though it will remain in Seattle). Potential buyers are already preparing for the Seahawks to hit the market.
  • Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com confirms what we have been hearing for some time: that something is off in the relationship between Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy, which could lead to McCarthy’s ouster at the end of the season. McCarthy is widely perceived to be on the hot seat, though Dougherty points out that team president/CEO Mark Murphy thinks highly of McCarthy and has final say over all football matters. However, Murphy will give a great deal of credence to the opinion of new GM Brian Gutekunst when it comes to the head coach’s future with the club.
  • We learned that top decision-makers for the Giants were in attendance at the Oregon-Utah game yesterday to scout Oregon QB Justin Herbert, even though Herbert is unlikely to enter the 2019 draft. Greg Joyce of the New York Post confirms that GM Dave Gettleman was one of the attendees, along with assistant GM Kevin Abrams and West Coast scout Jeremy Breit. If Herbert changes his mind and declares for the draft, New York will certainly be in play for him.
  • We learned earlier today that the Cowboys nearly fired OC Scott Linehan during last month’s bye.

Brian Gutekunst On Aaron Rodgers, Deals, Front Office Setup

As Brian Gutekunst prepares for his first season as Packers GM, he takes the reins of a team coming off its worst performance of the decade and one that is mired in contract negotiations with its cornerstone player.

The Aaron Rodgers extension buzz has picked up, but it’s not certain the Packers will have this deal done by the regular season. And Gutekunst doesn’t seem to believe that’s been a key deadline for a player with two years remaining on his contract.

I don’t think there’s any timetable on it. it’s just a matter of getting to the point that both sides think it’s the best thing moving forward,” Gutekunst said in an interview with PackersNews.com’s Pete Dougherty. “The perception of when the deal was getting done is probably why people are anxious outside of this building. Inside the building it’s always one of those things that’s taken its normal course. From my perception it’s not something that’s dragged on longer than I thought it would.”

As for if the Packers — who may prefer a longer-term pact than Rodgers does — would push this well beyond this season and into a 2020 franchise tag, Gutekunst doesn’t envision it. The Packers’ party line throughout the offseason is the expectation Rodgers’ deal is finalized this year, and Gutekunst believes his quarterback is deserving of a contract that makes him the highest-paid NFL player in history.

That would mean anything north of $30MM per year.

I think Aaron is one of the more unique players that I’ve ever been around or seen. It’s a tough question, but I think he’s as deserving as anybody,” Gutekunst said of Rodgers’ potential place atop the NFL salary spectrum, as he was when he signed his current five-year, $110MM deal in 2013. “I don’t think it will ever come to (a tag situation). I think this is something that’s moving along at the right pace and should come to a conclusion at some point. I don’t think we’re looking at those things right now.”

Despite the Raiders currently employing Khalil Mack, the Packers are oddly the Las Vegas frontrunners to be the team signing his checks by season’s end. The Packers were notoriously stingy in pursuits of players outside the organization under Ted Thompson, but Gutekunst will be in the market for top-level talent in trades or free agency.

However, the Packers — factoring in an imminent Rodgers re-up — would be in a historic place in the event of a Mack trade. One team has never employed two $20MM-per-year players, and any team trading for Mack would almost certainly have to a $20MM-AAV-plus extension upon doing so.

When you’re talking about unique players, there’s only so many of them out there,” Gutekunst said. “At the same time, the financial challenges may be difficult, but without players you can’t win. It’s like any significant player, they’re not inexpensive, but you have to have them to win.”

However, the first-year GM doesn’t have as much power as his predecessor. Gutekunst, Mike McCarthy and executive VP Russ Ball all report to Packers president Mark Murphy. Gutekunst, who maintained Thompson will still be in the picture from time to time, assessed this setup and the potential hurdles that will come with roster-building as a result.

If we have differences (McCarthy) explains to me what he’s thinking. I explain to him what I’m thinking, and we usually kind of get to a common ground,” Gutekunst said. “But again, this is my first go-through with this, the 53, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ve had a relationship with Mike since he’s been here, even before that. I don’t anticipate any issues where it’s going to come to that.

“… I have no regrets about taking the job at all. It was clearly spelled out to me from the beginning by Mark. Again, it wasn’t something I’d worked under before. Mark has been very up front, if there’s any player I want to sign, I have all roster decisions that way. That’s never come up. I’ve never been prevented from signing a player if that’s what I wanted to do.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.