Carolina Panthers General Manager David Gettleman doesn’t address the media often, but when he does, it’s guaranteed to be entertaining, revealing, and always punctuated by fun Yiddish sayings. I know, “it’s meshugana,” for a general manager to say what he means and mean what he says.
When Gettleman became Carolina’s general manager two years ago, few knew what to expect. The lifetime football Yankee was a sharp contrast to journalist turned GM, Marty Hurney. Gettleman seemed reserved, avoided media celebration, and even seemed curt at times. He never understated the Panthers’ organizational status, citing that righting the ship would be hard and the journey out of cap hell would be painful. He didn’t hold back. He didn’t suggest to fans that everything was going to be OK, or that it would be easy. Looking back, however, Gettleman has been remarkably open and honest. As the sting of his initial message subsided, fans saw that his bluntness was complimented by a charismatic transparency.
He’s always let on to what he’s planning more than most think. Whether it was Gettleman’s infamous 7-second pause indicating Cam Newton still had work to do before solidifying him as Carolina’s future, the hardball negotiating with Jordan Gross, or the suggestion that Carolina would part ways with Steve Smith, Gettleman has been straightforward with the players, the press, and the fans. The message hasn’t always been pleasant, but it’s been clear. If you dig into the message, it can also be revealing. Always, preceded by saying “I won’t talk contracts,” Gettleman let’s on to what he is planning, what he wants to do, and the formula he believes will bring Carolina long-term success.
Gettleman once again may have let on to his 2015 free-agency plan in his most recent press conference. When asked by BlackandBlueReview.com's would Gettleman caution fans from expecting any big ticket items as he did last year, Gettleman frankly answered “No….Last year, we were shopping in the dollar store, this year we might be able to move up in class a little bit.” Now Gettleman immediately tempered the notion that Carolina wouldn’t spend big money on “a player.”
None of this suggests, however, that Jason Pierre-Paul would be an option. He’s due for a big payday, one that even the Giants, who have cap space, may hesitate in coughing up.
So if Carolina isn’t going to put their money all in one player, what suggests the thrifty Gettleman would invest in “a player” named JPP?
Gettleman’s main focus when discussing free agency was on the importance of defense, stopping the run, and rushing the passer, noting that “offense scores points, and defense wins championships.” He continuously emphasizes his desire for Carolina’s identify to be based on a defense. He noted that this was his plan all along when tagging Greg Hardy, but that “blew up in their faces” when Hardy’s legal problems hit. With Hardy’s return to the Panthers unlikely, JPP could be the featured pass-rusher that would replace Hardy, and eventually supplant Charles Johnson.
Now many will say JPP is the big ticket Tiffany’s item that is out of Carolina’s league, given their modest spending money and need to secure Cam Newton to a long-term deal. JPP, however, may make more sense than one would think. Signing JPP to a long-term deal, where much of the money was back-loaded in the contract, would give time for Carolina to groom Kony Ealy and transition out of Charles Johnson’s “big money” contract in the next two years. JPP would give Carolina some breathing room, and suffocate opposing offenses for the next 3-4 years. He’s not the flashy offensive gem most would associate with a free-agency splash, but he fits the Carolina model, and given Gettleman’s propensity for defensive strength and his New York Connections, JPP could just be the free agent that no one sees coming..
Gettleman has been remarkably honest about his intentions, even if only in subtle suggestions. His focus on defense when discussing free agency may just make JPP the type of move that Gettleman would make to establish that long-term, sustainable success he always emphasizes. Yes, he’d be expensive, maybe even "meshaguna,"but JPP is also an expense that Gettleman could chose to facilitate Carolina’s defensive identity.
By "the Professor," aka Tony Dunn.
Follow "the Professor" on Twitter @Cat_Chronicles