The Panthers are dangerously close to jumping into a hole they only recently crawled out of.
On Monday morning, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson made the mind-boggling decision to fire the best GM the team has ever employed — Dave Gettleman. Gettleman was a financial wizard, effectively pulling the Panthers out of salary cap hell. He also was a phenomenal drafter, and an efficient dumpster diver when it came to free agency. His mastery in the front office granted Carolina three playoff berths in his four years with the team, one of which led to a dominant Super Bowl run.
Just a day later, Richardson is ready to give the job to a man who many would argue damaged the Panthers nearly beyond repair. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Richardson is meeting with former general manager and Gettleman’s predecessor, Marty Hurney.
A decent commander of the draft room, it wasn’t Hurney’s acquisitions that buried the Panthers in mediocrity. Instead, the former GM created a top-heavy roster in rewarding players with radical contracts. DE Charles Johnson, and running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams were all overpaid by excessive amounts, which stranded the Panthers on a salary-strapped island. Without any money to give, and with no room to improve, Carolina found itself at the basement of the NFL.
Fast-forward five years later, and it seems Jerry Richardson hasn’t learned a thing. If the owner wants to reward his aging vets (LB Thomas Davis, TE Greg Olsen) with absurd contracts, he’s certainly gone to the right man.
Even if Hurney’s hands are tied as “interim general manager”, this move shows no yearning for progress. Sure, Hurney has manned rosters before, but he’s been out of the game for 6 years. The Panthers are a completely different team with an identity that transcends football of a decade ago.
Now, with training camp nearly a week away, Hurney may be expected to evaluate the unfamiliar roster before him, and make drastic decisions in order to trim the fat down to 53 players from 90.
Who could possibly go wrong?
By Bobby Agnese
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