Reports: Sherman may lose GM job

According to media reports, Packers president Bob Harlan is considering removing the general manager tag from coach Mike Sherman's nameplate.

Harlan, who never was entirely comfortable with one person holding both jobs but handed the GM reins to Sherman on the advice of Ron Wolf when he retired in 2001, will pursue Seattle Seahawks vice president of football operations Ted Thompson to take over as general manager, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Green Bay Press-Gazette reported in their Thursday editions.

A member of the Packers' media-relations staff late Thursday morning told that the Packers have no news conference scheduled to announce anything concerning the GM job. Sherman's year-ending news conference will be held at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Thompson has Packers ties, serving as the pro personnel director and director of player personnel under Wolf from 1992-99. During his tenure in Green Bay, he worked with Packers pro personnel director Reggie McKenzie, college scouting director John Dorsey and personnel analyst John Schneider. Thompson and Sherman were with the Packers when Sherman was tight ends coach in 1997 and 1998.

Thompson is under contract with the Seahawks until June, but since coming to Green Bay would be a promotion, the Seahawks can't prevent the move.

Sherman's history as general manager has been mixed. In a trade with Seattle, Sherman gave up his first- and second-round draft picks to move up in the first round in 2002 to get Pro Bowl wide receiver Javon Walker. His other picks in 2002, his first solo draft — Wolf and Sherman worked together in 2001 — were safety Marques Anderson, running back Najeh Davenport, defensive end Aaron Kampman, quarterback Craig Nall and offensive lineman Mike Houghton.

That promising draft, however, was as good as it got for Sherman. In 2003, Sherman selected linebacker Nick Barnett, defensive linemen Kenny Peterson and James Lee, linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, offensive tackle Brennan Curtin, cornerback Chris Johnson, kick returner DeAndrew Rubin, wide receiver Carl Ford and linebacker Steve Josue. Of those nine, only Barnett starts or even plays regularly. Five of the nine have never played a regular-season snap, though Curtin and Johnson spent this season on injured reserve and remain solid prospects. His best move of the draft was trading his second-round pick to Philadelphia to obtain Al Harris.

The 2004 draft hasn't shown much promise, either. First-round pick Ahmad Carroll had a brutal year at cornerback. Same for third-round pick Joey Thomas. Third-round pick Donnell Washington, a defensive tackle, showed nothing in training camp before being put on injured reserve. Sixth-round pick Corey Williams alternated with 2003 pick Peterson as an extra defensive lineman on game days. Of the bunch, seventh-round pick Scott Wells, a center, had the best rookie season.

Then there's punter B.J. Sander, who Sherman landed in the third round by trading his fourth- and fifth-round picks to Miami. Sander was the 32nd-ranked punter in the preseason and was replaced by Bryan Barker, who thought his career was over at age 40. Sander was kept on the active roster all season, a move that really hurt when the Packers were short a wide receiver in the playoff loss to Minnesota.

And for the third year in a row, Sherman traded his second-round pick. This time, it went to Jacksonville for third- and fourth-round picks. The third-rounder yielded Washington and the fourth-rounder was shipped to Miami to help land Sander.

Sherman's moves in free agency have been sketchy, as well. He was wise to pick defensive tackle Grady Jackson off the waiver wire. But his major off-season moves, such as signing quarterback Tim Couch and safety Mark Roman before the 2004 season as well as defensive end Joe Johnson and linebacker Hardy Nickerson in prior years, flopped.

The Packers also are tight against the salary cap, but that's the price for trying to keep quality players as Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher and Robert Ferguson.

If Harlan does make the move at general manager, it sets up some touchy situations. Generally, a boss wants to hire his own men, meaning the new general manager may not be enamored with having to keep Sherman as coach. Sherman's contract, meanwhile, ends after the 2005 season, and his agent, Bob LaMonte, wants to work out an extension. Without a new contract heading into next season, Sherman would have a lame-duck status and that, coupled with already losing the GM role, could lessen his locker-room influence.

Then there's Brett Favre. While Favre doesn't have to sign off on any front-office moves, common sense says it would be wise to consult with Favre first. If the new general manager wants to start rebuilding, that could push Favre closer to retirement.

On the plus side, Sherman's primary concern has always been winning, and while his ego would be bruised with a demotion, he probably would be willing to work with whoever the boss would be.

In Seattle, Thompson worked with Holmgren on all personnel issues and played a role in the drafting of star running back Shaun Alexander and Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson. Alexander finished just a yard short of winning the NFL rushing title. Receivers Koren Robinson and Darrell Jackson and defensive backs Ken Lucas, Marcus Trufant, Ken Hamlin and Michael Boulware all are starters.

Thompson is a 13-year veteran of NFL front offices after playing 10 years at linebacker with the Houston Oilers. His first front-office job came with the Packers. According to the Seahawks' Web site, Thompson helped in the drafting of 47 players during his tenure, 35 of which were in the 2004 training camp.

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