By this point of the offseason, teams are usually locked in on coaching staff, front officer personnel and are focused on putting together the best team possible going into training camp. But this is a season where we’ve already seen a general manager in Kansas City let go after the draft… but today’s move by the Carolina Panther’s firing their GM Dave Gettleman will only be a surprise to those not paying attention. Gettleman has been with the team since 2013. They’ve made the play offs in three of those four seasons, a Super Bowl in one of them and have a record of 40-23-1.
He was a GM that believed football games were won in the trenches by big players he called Hog Mollies. He has 30 years experience including time with the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos and New York Giants. He also looked at everything as a business, not hesitating to make unpopular moves for the good of the team. When he stepped in, the Panthers were in salary cap hell. Now they have an excess of cash and can look at extended some of their veterans. Which is likely where the wheels came off the cart.
Some of the cuts Gettleman made were to long time and very popular players like Steve Smith Jr, DeAngelo Williams and Josh Norman. All of whom went on to have good seasons with other teams and speak very poorly of how Gettleman handled their dismissal. Williams included Carolina as one of the teams he would never go back to in an interview recently. Smith Jr. who looks to be retiring, has not done the one day contract to make an announcement and it’s like to be because of Gettleman. The Panthers franchise tagged Norman going into last season, but rescinded it at the last minute, leaving the team vulnerable at corner and weakening the defense greatly as the rookie replacements took time to get up to speed.
Now you might be thinking that this is just part of the business of football, and with almost any other team you would be right. But the Panthers are different and it starts at the top. The team is owned by Jerry Richardson, the only owner to have actually played in the NFL. He was a tight end with the Baltimore Colts and won a championship in 1959 (before the merger) with Johnny Unitas. Jerry loves his players like family and they love him. The days he comes out to visit practice are the ones that the players seem to talk about the most. All of them wanting to go by and say hi and spend a few minutes. The idea of veteran players being treated the way Gettleman has was so far from how Richardson acts that something was bound to happen. Especially with two major players, Thomas Davis and Greg Olsen, coming up for new contracts. Davis is the heart of the defense, having come back from three torn ACL injuries in his early career to be one of the top linebackers in the league. Olsen is hands down one of the best tight ends in the game and his charity work has gone on to catch the attention of folks like William Shatner.
The firing was announced in a statement from Richardson:
After much thought and a long evaluation of our football operations, I have decided to relieve Dave Gettleman of his duties as general manager. 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.
When the news broke, a few of the ex-players took to Twitter in response.
I want to publicly say @Panthers is off my list of teams I won’t play for due to the firing of that snake Dave gettleman! 😎😎👌🏽✊🏽
— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) July 17, 2017
— *Joshua R. Norman (@J_No24) July 17, 2017
— Steve Smith Sr (@89SteveSmith) July 17, 2017
Steve Smith Jr. was never one to mix words.
No announcement on who will be handling player personnel in the interim, but they will need someone soon. The Panthers are already with out a team president after Danny Morrison resigned in February and former assistant general manager Brandon Beane left the team to be the GM of the Buffalo Bills, another team that fired the GM after the draft.
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