NFL general managers who are just one year removed from a Super Bowl appearance rarely get fired, especially days before the start of training camp.
So naturally, the football world was sent into a frenzy when the Carolina Panthers parted ways with GM Dave Gettleman on Monday. The exact reasoning behind the firing is murky, but Gettleman’s treatment of certain veterans is one possible explanation that’s gaining traction.
Thomas Davis and Greg Olsen – two of the team’s most seasoned players – had both made it publicly known that they wanted extensions, and Gettleman hadn’t exactly appeared in a rush to hand them out, despite strong recent play from both.
Davis and Olsen are also two of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson’s favorite players, and with Gettleman and Richardson’s relationship already reportedly in a bad place – due to the former’s handling of the Josh Norman situation last offseason – the GM’s stance on Davis and Olsen apparently may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Gettleman wasn’t interested in giving Olsen a new deal with two years remaining on his current one, a source told The Charlotte Observer’s Joseph Person. And while Person noted that many believed Davis would eventually get another short-term contract, the linebacker’s wife, Kelly, posted a tweet last month that hinted at the state of the franchise under Gettleman, as noted by Pro Football Talk’s Darin Gantt.
Kelly posted on Twitter a message reading: “Loyalty means NOTHING nowadays but I love a person who knows their worth! #BigOlFacts #KnowYourWorth #NotShockedAtAll #ItsRumbleTime.”
The tweet could be unrelated, but it’s also possible Davis’ wife was expressing frustration she knew her husband – one of the league’s consummate professionals – would never publicly share.
And it apparently wasn’t a new issue for the Panthers – Gettleman ruling with his head and Richarson with his heart.
According to Person, Gettleman’s decisions to part ways with veterans such as Steve Smith Sr., DeAngelo Williams, and Norman in recent years were not popular moves – and all three players backed up that perception with their reactions to Gettleman’s dismissal on Monday.
All were justifiable moves – though the loss of Norman arguably hurt the Panthers in 2016 more than anything else – but if the higher-ups wanted Gettleman to reward players for loyalty, they clearly weren’t even working from the same book, let alone the same page.
Another source with knowledge of the situation told Person that Gettleman’s “blunt management style and those aforementioned personnel moves created a divide between players and the front office.”
So, even if that divide didn’t seal Gettleman’s fate, it appears the Panthers were no longer willing to paper over the cracks for a GM that didn’t follow the owner’s vision for the team.
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