GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers will have two new coordinators next season as a shakeup of the team’s coaching staff continued Wednesday.
Two sources said coach Mike McCarthy had decided to remove longtime assistant coach Edgar Bennett from the offensive coordinator position he had held since 2015. However, both sources said while Bennett could be let go completely, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility he could remain on staff in another capacity. One league source had said on Tuesday that McCarthy intended to change offensive coordinators.
The news on Bennett’s situation broke shortly before the Packers officially announced the team had parted ways with defensive coordinator Dom Capers, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac and assistant linebackers coach Scott McCurley — moves that actually happened earlier this week in the wake of the team’s season-ending 35-11 loss at Detroit on Sunday.
In addition, two league sources said the team was not bringing back quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, whose contract had expired. Presumably, McCarthy could have tried to bring back Van Pelt, one of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ closest confidants on the staff, had he wanted to. And a league source said Van Pelt did not choose to leave.
It is unclear whether Bennett is open to being reassigned on the staff. The Packers lost wide receivers coach Luke Getsy to Mississippi State, where he’ll be 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 under Mike Sherman and McCarthy.
Among the candidates who could take over for Bennett as offensive coordinator would be offensive line coach James Campen, now the longest-tenured assistant coach on the offensive staff; ex-New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo, who worked for McCarthy in New Orleans and San Francisco before serving as the Packers’ tight ends coach from 2006-11 and quarterbacks coach from 2012-13 ; and ex-Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, the Packers’ offensive coordinator from 2007-11. Philbin spent the past two seasons as the Indianapolis Colts’ assistant head coach and offensive line coach under Chuck Pagano, who was fired earlier this week.
McCarthy is slated to hold his annual after-the-season news briefing this morning.
With Capers’ departure official, McCarthy presumably can start interviewing candidates to replace him. A league source said cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt and safeties coach Darren Perry are both candidates for the job, though McCarthy figures to take long looks at outside candidates as well. Ex-Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio interviewed for the Bears’ vacant head-coaching position Wednesday but could be available if the team hires someone else to replace John Fox.
A number of other highly regarded defensive coordinators should also be available, though some of them, such as Fangio, are candidates for head-coaching jobs.
One league source said assistant head coach/linebackers coach Winston Moss is not seen as a candidate to replace Capers and may not return to the staff. Moss reportedly is set to interview with the Detroit Lions for their head-coaching position this week.
GM interviews to begin
The Packers and team president/CEO Mark Murphy will begin interviews for their vacant general manager position with the people they know best.
An NFL source said Murphy intended to start interviewing candidates today, and that he’d start with the team’s three in-house candidates: director of football operations Eliot Wolf, director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst, and vice president of football administration Russ Ball.
It was unclear in what order the three would be interviewed and whether all three would be interviewed today or if the in-house interviews would carry into Friday.
Murphy, speaking at a news conference Tuesday, said that he intended to move “quickly” to replace longtime general manager Ted Thompson, who is transitioning to an emeritus position the team has termed “senior advisor to football operations.” Thompson is slated to continue to break down tape and work on scouting prospects but will no longer have decision-making power in the personnel department.
Who will have that power is the biggest decision of Murphy’s 10-year tenure as team president, and Murphy made it clear that he would not restrict himself to candidates who are disciples of Pro Football Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf, who restored the Packers to glory as the team’s GM from 1991 through 2001. Murphy also said that the next GM need not come from a scouting background, which makes Ball — the team’s salary-cap expert and chief contract negotiator — a legitimate candidate for the position, despite not having any personnel experience.
“We’ll move forward with all deliberate speed,” Murphy said. “We want to move quickly but we also want to make sure we get the right person.”