GM mum on Sherman's fate

Thompson takes the 'Fifth' on whether he will retain Packers head coach

If Ted Thompson has made up his mind about coach Mike Sherman's fate when the season ends in a little more than two weeks, the first-year general manager isn't saying.

Per his reticent style, Thompson this week shed no light on Sherman's future with the team as the end nears on one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

"I don't know if I need to get into all the machinations" of the decision-making process, Thompson told the Wisconsin State Journal in a story published Thursday.

"I'm going to be around for the next two or three weeks as we finish up the season," added Thompson, who's been on the road for most of the season scouting college players. "And then we do our end-of-the-season evaluations. That applies to personnel. It applies to my job and my own self-critique, to coaches, players, trainers, equipment people, everybody. Just kind of see where you are, see if you're where you need to be and where you might want to try to tweak some stuff."

Thompson gave Sherman a vote of confidence during the preseason, giving him a two-year contract extension for $3.2 million per year through the 2007 season. Sherman was in the final year of his contract and would have been portrayed as a lame-duck coach.

Although the team has a substantial amount of money tied up in Sherman for the next two years, Thompson has the authority to make a coaching change if he sees fit. Certainly, the Packers' free fall from winning the past three NFC North titles to the division basement with a 3-10 record can't be taken lightly. It marks their first losing season since they were 4-12 in 1991, a year prior to the arrival of quarterback Brett Favre.

In Sherman's defense, though, the Packers have been rocked by serious injuries to a number of key players, including wide receiver Javon Walker and running back Ahman Green. The coach also kept the short-handed team competitive, with seven of the losses by no more than a touchdown.

Thompson, asked if he's made up his mind about whether to retain or dismiss Sherman following the New Year's Day finale against Seattle, said in the newspaper article, "I wouldn't care to comment on that right now. I'll take the Fifth."

The uncertain future for Sherman and members of his coaching staff apparently has, at least in part, prompted two aides to explore employment opportunities elsewhere.

Wide receivers coach James Franklin is a candidate for the position of offensive coordinator at Kansas State, where friend Ron Prince is the new head coach.

Former Nebraska standout Turner Gill, in his first year as the Packers' director of player development and offensive assistant, is a up for the head coaching job at the University at Buffalo.

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