Carolina Panthers fans, players, coaches, and executives can complain about Dave Gettleman’s late-offseason firing all they want, but they can’t change the past.
The Panthers still have a season to play, and they certainly aren’t going to call it a day because their front-office leader is no longer in place.
Gettleman’s absence really shouldn’t affect the Panthers’ on-field product, with the draft and free agency in the rear-view mirror. However, the Panthers need someone to be at the helm with training camp days away and several key veterans entering contract years.
Enter Marty Hurney.
The former Panthers GM met with owner Jerry Richardson on Tuesday and is reportedly expected to be named Gettleman’s interim successor.
Hurney first came to the Panthers’ player personnel department in 1997, was hired as GM in 2002, and was eventually fired after a 1-5 start to the 2012 season. While he has been out of football since that time, he racked up a resume that could be ideal for the Panthers and their owner.
- Drafted current players Julius Peppers, Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Charles Johnson, Captain Munnerlyn, and Jonathan Stewart
- Traded for Greg Olsen
- Hired head coach Ron Rivera
- Helped team win two division titles and three playoff games, and make one Super Bowl appearance
- Journalism background in public relations department, sports writing, and radio
Hurney’s familiarity with the Panthers, and head coach Rivera in particular, makes him an ideal candidate, as new relationships wouldn’t have to be formed, few introductions would need to be made, and the “feeling out” process should end fairly quickly. That’s going to be important when Rivera and Hurney – or whoever else the Panthers hire – need to shape the roster at the end of August.
That roster cut is likely the only set of big moves Carolina’s interim GM will need to handle outside of contract extensions. With somewhat of a logjam along the offensive and defensive lines, and in the secondary, Rivera and his next GM will need to be on the same page to keep the club moving in the right direction. As Rivera’s former boss, Hurney shouldn’t need to prove to the coach that he’s qualified and ready to lead.
His background in journalism is the perfect skill set to help clean up the perceived mess Richardson caused by abruptly dismissing Gettleman, as Hurney would be the new face of the front office. Less experienced executives and former scouts may not know how to navigate the minefield that the NFL media landscape can be, but Hurney has recent firsthand experience as a local radio personality.
One of the perceived reasons for Gettleman’s firing was his potential reluctance to re-sign veteran players, though Thomas Davis, who’s currently in negotiations, dismissed that notion Tuesday. Whether that was the reason or not, players like Davis and Greg Olsen still require contract extensions. Luckily for Hurney, he was the one who brought both veterans to Carolina, and should be able to rekindle relationships with the duo.
While Gettleman’s dismissal seems to be about how he conducted himself within the organization, as opposed to how the team performed, he left the Panthers in a pretty good spot, compiling a 40-23-1 record and three NFC South titles in four years. Newton has proven to be a star, rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel are set to give the offense a newfound versatility, the linebacking corps is arguably the best in football, and the defensive line has quietly been loaded with talent.
The Panthers will only make a mess of this if they want to. Bringing in a new executive who might try to take the team in their own direction just isn’t going to work at this point of the schedule. Carolina needs someone with experience, and someone who can get a long with the owner, take care of current contract talks, knows the organization, knows the media, and knows how to not mess up a good thing.
Don’t overthink it. Hire Hurney.
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