Posted on July 17, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
With the start of training camp right around the corner, the Carolina Panthers have made a major shakeup in the front office. Monday, the organization announced that GM Dave Gettleman has been fired. Gettleman has been Carolina’s GM since 2013 and was at the helm when the Panthers reached the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
“After much thought and a long evaluation of our football operations, I have decided to relieve Dave Gettleman of his duties as general manager,” Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said in a statement. “I want to thank Dave for the role he played in our success over the past four seasons. While the timing of this decision is not ideal, a change is needed.”
The timing is indeed far from ideal. The Panthers are set to begin training camp in just eight days. Reports out of Charlotte indicate that the team’s staff was caught off guard by the move, especially so close to training camp. However, one unnamed veteran player said it was “not a shock” to see Gettleman fired.
There is no known timeline for finding a replacement. It’s likely that the Panthers will hire an interim GM to handle GM duties for the immediate future. Those close to the organization feel that former Panthers GM Marty Hurney may be a candidate to become the team’s interim GM. Hurney had a hand in drafting some of the team’s current stars, including Cam Newton and Thomas Davis.
Names have already started to surface for the full-time GM job. Among the names currently floating out there are Trent Kirchner, co-director of player personnel for the Seahawks, Ryan Cowden, director of player personnel for the Titans, and Mark Koncz, who is currently director of player personnel for the Panthers.
The Panthers were 40-23-1 during Gettleman’s time as GM. Carolina made the playoffs three straight seasons, culminating in a trip to the Super Bowl in 2015. However, the team took a significant step backward last year, finishing just 6-10. Gettleman was also criticized for a number of controversial decisions regarding several of the team’s star players.
In 2016, Gettleman took the franchise player tag off cornerback Josh Norman. He also cut longtime fan favorites Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Gettleman also traded away standout linebacker Jon Beason in 2013.
At the time of his firing, Gettleman found himself locked in a standoff with a couple of Carolina’s more prominent players who are looking for contract extensions. Davis is entering the final year of his contract and has said he’d like an extension in place before training camp starts. Tight end Greg Olsen has two years left on his contract but has floated the idea of a holdout if he doesn’t receive a new contract. Both players may be more likely to receive new contracts with Gettleman out as GM, depending on how is hired as his replacement.
Following Gettleman’s firing, both Smith and Norman have tweeted their pleasure at Carolina’s decision to let him go. Meanwhile, Williams, who is currently a free agent, has tweeted that because of Gettleman’s firing he has removed the Panthers from a list of teams he wouldn’t play for.
Obviously, firing the GM a little over a week before training camp is not a move most teams take pleasure in making. But it appears that the Panthers had to move on from Gettleman before the start of the season. Just one year removed from a conference championship, the Panthers have the talent to contend in the NFC if they can return to the form they had in 2015. Clearly, Richardson believed that Gettleman was doing more harm than good. Only time will tell if his decision will pay off.