Panthers Will Regret Parting Ways with Gettleman
The Carolina Panthers combined regular season record under General Manager Dave Gettleman. Oh, excuse me. Ex-General Manager Dave Gettleman.
The Carolina Panthers combined regular season record in the 9 1/2 years under former General Manager Marty Hurney. Wait, sorry. Current General Manager Marty Hurney.
That’s going to take me a little while to get used to.
The Carolina Panthers decision to part ways with GM Dave Gettleman came from out of left field. Carolina seemed to be all-in for another season with Gettleman after giving him the keys to the Panthers vault and allowing him to dish out 16 new contracts during the offseason. This seemed like it was the smart thing to do, given that Gettleman had steered the Panthers to three consecutive NFC South crowns from the years 2013-2015, a stretch that included the franchise’s second Super Bowl appearance. All seemed well in Charlotte, with the Panthers players eager to rebound from a severely disappointing 6-10 2016 campaign that seemed like an anomaly on Gettleman’s resume. The only blemishes of Carolina’s extremely active offseason were a few quiet grumblings of possible frustration from veterans Greg Olsen and Thomas Davis, who were rumored to be looking for extensions from the team.
And then, just eight days before the Panthers were set to begin training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, NC, the shocking news of Gettleman’s firing surfaced. The development blindsided fans and players alike, both because of Gettleman’s previous success and the timing of the decision. Why fire the GM that had taken you to the Super Bowl a season ago just eight days before the season officially begins?
Panther’s Owner Jerry Richardson conceded that the firing was at an inopportune time, but defended his decision by stating that “a change was needed”. The most unfortunate thing about the timing of Richardson’s decision, however, is that the Panthers had committed to Gettleman earlier in the year and allowed assistant GM Brandon Beane to leave the organization for Buffalo. With Beane now the Bills’ GM, Carolina was left scrambling to find an adequate replacement for Gettleman and settled instead for a familiar name; Marty Hurney.
Hurney is the only other Carolina GM to guide the organization to the Super Bowl, but he is most remembered by fans as the man who put the Panthers in salary cap hell. Hurney had a penchant for giving out massive contracts to players who maybe didn’t deserve it, leaving the team $16 Million over the salary cap by the time Hurney was fired and Gettleman was brought in to replace him. Hurney’s defense for shelling out the contracts was pretty simple; he had too big of a heart. Hurney grew attached to the players and wanted to reward them for their loyalty to the team. However, his method of showing appreciation cost the Panthers greatly, and also cost Hurney his job.
The 2013 offseason was hellacious for Carolina, as they weren’t able to sign any big-name free agents because of the dumpster fire of a budget that Gettleman had inherited from Hurney. Instead, he opted to build the team through the draft. Things were looking grim going into the season, but Gettleman expertly navigated the team through rough seas and gave Carolina their first winning season since 2008. His approach to future off-seasons would be modeled after the success he had in 2013, as Gettleman usually focused his resources on the draft and was very successful in making productive picks for the Panthers. Among the players Gettleman selected: All-Pro DT Kawann Short, All-Pro G Trai Turner, and numerous starters and productive players like WR’s Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, LB’s Shaq Thompson and AJ Klein, CB’s Bene Benwikere, Daryl Worley and James Bradberry. Needless to say, Gettleman was a fantastic General Manager when it came to the draft, and that was the biggest reason for the Panthers recent success during his regime.
Hurney’s ability in the draft was a little different. He’s not known as a particularly strong drafter, but he has picked a handful of superstars like Luke Kuechley, Jon Beason, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Josh Norman and Cam Newton over his ten years as GM. However, outside of these big-names, Hurney’s drafts have usually been pretty devoid of productive players. It’s boom or bust with Hurney at the helm of the franchise. That means it’s boom or bust for the Carolina Panthers.