Thompson deserving of extension

In a move many expected, the Green Bay Packers rewarded Packers general manager Ted Thompson with a five-year contract extension today, a deal that he deserves says's Todd Korth.

Thompson's new, five-year contract runs through the 2012 season, team Chairman Bob Harlan announced today. The extension comes nearly three years after Thompson was named the team's general manager on Jan. 14, 2005.

With Green Bay's success this season, Thompson was expected to receive an extension on top of the five-year deal that he signed three years ago. That deal was believed to be worth between $1 million and $1.5 million per year, so the new deal probably will be worth twice as much, or more.

Without using free agency much at all, Thompson, who turns 55 on Jan. 17, has built the Packers into a Super Bowl contender in the last three years. After firing Mike Sherman as head coach following a 4-12 season in 2005, Thompson hired Mike McCarthy as the new head coach, surprising the football world. But McCarthy has guided the team to a 21-11 record over the past two seasons. The Packers finished this season with a 13-3 mark en route to the NFC North Division title and a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Packers are a favorite to advance to the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 20.

Thompson's eye for talent through the NFL draft and McCarthy's ability to groom young players in a hurry has helped the Packers succeed when many experts felt they didn't have a chance. Though many fans were calling for Thompson to be fired last off-season when the Packers steered clear of signing any big-name free agents or trading for wide receiver Randy Moss, the general manager's critics have been silenced this season as the young Packers surprised the league behind veteran Brett Favre.

"We are very pleased with the way Ted Thompson has led the football operations of this organization," Harlan said in a release. "He is doing exactly what we anticipated when we hired him. He crafted his trade under Ron Wolf, built a strong football team in Seattle and has built a team here in Green Bay that is back in the playoffs. He has a great system of building the team through the draft and has the Packers positioned very well for the future."

Of the 53 active roster players for Saturday's Divisional Playoff game against Seattle, 40 have been acquired by Thompson.

Ironically, the signing comes five days before the Packers play host to the Seattle Seahawks in a NFC Divisional playoff game on Saturday. Thompson used five drafts with the Seahawks to build that team into a Super Bowl contender with ex-Packers coach Mike Holmgren at the helm.

Thompson, modest as always, is grateful for the extension.

"This is a great organization and I am deeply humbled and appreciative," said Thompson. "This is truly a team effort. Green Bay is a special place and I am honored to work with such a great group of people."

Thompson is a native of Atlanta, Texas. He was a three-year starter at Southern Methodist University and enjoyed a 10-year playing career with the Houston Oilers (1975-84). Thompson previously served an eight-year tenure with the Packers personnel department (1992-99) and five seasons in Seattle (2000-04) as the team's vice president of football operations before re-joining the Packers in 2005.

Thompson is the fourth general manager in Packers history to serve solely in the front office, joining Ron Wolf (1992-2001), Vince Lombardi (1968) and Verne Lewellen (1954-'58).

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