Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Jul 2017

Panthers Fire GM Dave Gettleman

The Carolina Panthers today announced general manager Dave Gettleman had been relieved of his duties. Owner Jerry Richardson statement, courtesy of the team, offered no real explanation for the move, but did not the timing was not ideal. Like Kansas City last month, Carolina also lost their most obvious internal GM candidate to another team earlier this offseason, as Brandon Beane is now in Buffalo. A curious move, no matter how bad a look rescinding the franchise tag on Josh Norman and losing him for nothing and going 6-10 last year was.

Posted by: Tom Gower on 17 Jul 2017

40 comments, Last at 29 Jul 2017, 11:33pm by Michael.Edits


by Bryan Knowles :: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 1:03pm


by morganja :: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 1:35pm

A move long overdue.

Panthers still have never replaced Jordan Gross or Steve Smith. DeAngelo was always a great team player, and he left, like all the rest, feeling poorly treated.

by theslothook :: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 1:48pm

Gettleman did a great job I thought. Remember, he took over after Marty Hurney mortaged the future by trading future 2nd round pick for amanti edwards(he lasted 4 seasons as a backup,/gagdet receiver - the pick became the first pick in the 2nd round), future first for everett brown(he lasted two seasons with the panthers) and two first rounders for Jeff Otah(good when healthy but undone by injuries, lasted three seasons).

Those sort of moves can potentially set a franchise back for five years, but he navigated the rough seas well enough. I mean, if the panthers don't commit a few dumb turnovers in the superbowl, what would everyone's opinion of Gettleman be now?

by morganja :: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 2:08pm

How many of those 'dumb' turnovers were because the offensive line was in shambles? We still don't have a left tackle.
Or because the receivers couldn't get open and were letting themselves get beaten up? I don't recall Steve Smith ever letting himself or a teammate get manhandled. Can you imagine what Steve Smith would have done to the Broncos head hunting Cam Newton in last year's opener? They would still be trying to identify body parts.
Gettleman over-drafted DT Vernon Butler when needs were much greater for a LT, because he wanted to pressure Short and Star on their contracts.
Managing the salary cap is important to winning, but it is not the objective of the team. You can 'win' every salary confrontation, put the team in a good salary situation, but unless that is translated into winning on the football field, it doesn't help the organization.
It seemed to me that Gettleman wanted to win the salary games instead of football games.

by theslothook :: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 5:17pm

So it's Gettleman's fault that Kelvin Benjamin got hurt and left the team with no receivers? Do you really think if Steve Smith sr was on the team they would have won the sb?

Considering the Panthers had a winning record under his tenure, I would say he cared a lot about winning football games.

by Alternator :: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 9:34pm


Why would it be even slightly controversial to say that it's the GMs fault if a team only has one competent receiver? Regardless what you think about Gettleman's job performance, it's ALWAYS the [person with final personnel authority]'s fault when severe roster holes appear.

by theslothook :: Tue, 07/18/2017 - 2:07am

Show me a roster in the NFL that's devoid of weaknesses year-in and year-out? Yes that is the fault of the GM but it's also a reality of the NFL. Within that context I think he did just fine. More than fine actually.

He took over a team in absolute disarray and they achieved a pretty remarkable level of success. Can anyone named me another team that had started at rock bottom like the Panthers and had anything better than to show for it?

by wiesengrund :: Tue, 07/18/2017 - 7:11am

The "rock bottom" he took over included Cam, Keuchly, Olsen, Kalil, Davis and Norman. The cap space was in shambles, that's why his FA moves get a pass, but he inherited the team that took them to the SB and added exactly two hit (Short and Trai Turner) in the draft. That's a thin resume for 4 years.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 07/18/2017 - 8:39am

Reggie McKenzie took the Raiders from a back-to-back 8-8 team, dismantled it all and has them as a AFC contender in five years with a franchise QB and LB-DE in place. The first 3-4 of those years were dismal though.

John Elway took the Broncos to a Super Bowl title. They'd just been trashed by a young GM-HC who traded the franchise QB and picked up a 'minor league baseball' player to replace him. I'm sure most of the 2010 roster weren't around for the SB50 win.

On the surface, I don't think Gettleman has done anything obviously bad enough to warrant being replaced but I don't follow the Panthers closely. Four years isn't long as a GM where you've actually had some success. People seemed high on him when Carolina were in the Super Bowl but that's usually the case - look for explanations of what he/they did right.

by theslothook :: Tue, 07/18/2017 - 1:46pm

I don't follow the Panthers closely either, but from a distance, like you, it didn't look like he did poorly to justify his firing.

by njwelch75 :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 11:13am

I think you're really underestimating how well he drafted. Shaq Thompson and Star Lotulelie are both really solid starters. Kelvin Benjamin had a great rookie season before the ACL injury. AJ Klein was a really good backup in the 5th round and just got a starter spot on the saints. It's too early to say anything on Butler, Bradberry and Worley, but the corners at least showed enough promise as rookies to merit another look.

If you want to criticize his drafting, I'd look at how eager he was to trade up. He gave up a young, inconsistent DE who had at least shown flashes to move up 8 spots. He gave up a lot of value for Daryl Williams and Funchess. That stuff adds up.

Overall, he did a good job despite his flaws. The Panthers weren't going anywhere with their cap situation, and he was able to pull them out of it while remaining competitive.

At least they aren't going to do anything crazy, like rehire Marty Hurney. Wouldn't that be nuts; hiring a GM with the exact same drafting flaws, but none of the benefits. heh heh i'm going to cry

by dryheat :: Thu, 07/20/2017 - 3:34pm

And...Hurney's first order of business is to drastically overpay a guard. Gotta keep that family together.

by morganja :: Thu, 07/20/2017 - 4:49pm

Two time All-pro guard making $11.5 million on a brand new 2017 contract?

1 Kevin Zeitler $12,000,000
2 Kelechi Osemele $11,700,000
3 Gabe Jackson $11,200,000
4 Kyle Long $10,000,000
David DeCastro $10,000,000
6 T.J. Lang $9,500,000
7 Ron Leary $9,000,000
8 Joel Bitonio $8,527,463
9 Larry Warford $8,500,000
10 Laurent Duvernay-Tardif $8,472,600

Looks like it's right in line, if not a little low.

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 11:07pm

Sorry, but it really didn't matter who they had on the OL in the super bowl, nobody in the NFL was going to block Miller or Ware that game.

by Independent George :: Thu, 07/20/2017 - 1:07pm

Steve Smith might have...

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 2:58pm

Surprising in that the Panthers roster has gotten a lot better in recent years and very surprising just in terms of the timing of the move; lots of speculation at the moment that the fact Gettleman wanted to basically do the Belichick heartless thing is what caused his firing. Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams, Josh Norman, Thomas Davis not getting his contract extension . . . it's a valid guess?

Maybe Richardson got tired of fielding a defense with zero cornerbacks and 25 defensive linemen?

by Alternator :: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 9:36pm

Soulless Belichick pragmatism requires a high level of success to pay off - it does cause a drain on player loyalty, which can only be made up for by winning. The Panthers haven't managed back-to-back winning seasons yet.

by Independent George :: Tue, 07/18/2017 - 12:22pm

Souless Belichick pragmatism is about willing to take nonessential short-term hits in exchange for long term growth/depth. The Panthers haven't had back-to-back winning seasons, but their overall trajectory from 2013 isn't terrible:

2011: 6-10
2012: 7-9
2013: 12-4
2014: 7-8-1
2015: 15-1
2016: 6-10

No, that's not consistency like under John Elway or Andy Reid, but it's also not what you'd expect to merit a pre-training camp termination.

I don't follow Carolina enough to say whether he's made other mistakes that haven't showed up in the record, but it does look odd to an outside observer who's seen much, much worse.

by theslothook :: Tue, 07/18/2017 - 1:50pm

This off-season for the Patriots has been so counter to their traditional moves. I can't remember BB trading even a 2nd rounder for an established veteran, let alone a 1st rounder. Or spending huge money on a talented but inconsistent cb.

Don't misunderstand me: I liked those moves. They just run counter to his general team guiding strategy.

by dryheat :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 8:50am

I think that angle is a bit overblown. He traded (IIRC) a 2nd rounder for Corey Dillon, a 2nd and 7th for Wes Welker, a 3rd for Duane Starks, he traded for Randy Moss, Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco, Aqib Talib, (granted, these were largely of the twenty-five cents-on-the-dollar variety, but given how BB values picks, that's not nothing). He's ponied up for Darrelle Revis and Adalius Thomas in free agency. He's probably made more trades for players than the other 31 GMs combined.

Oh, and Soulless Belichick Pragmatism is the name of my next band. After Malcolm Go! suffers its inevitable break-up.

And....because this is, in fact, a Panthers thread, I think Gettleman got shafted. You can have a GM that's friendly with the players, or one that can do the job effectively. It seems Richardson would rather have the former.

by morganja :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 10:52am

He could have made the same decisions without being a world-class jerk about it. In any case, having salary cap space and not spending it on a LT, CB's and receivers that the team desperately needs leads to the same result as not having the salary cap to begin with.

Gettleman sabotaged last season. For what? Are we in any better shape?

Gettleman's idea of success seems to be to have a healthy salary cap, and an 8-8 record every year.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 11:41am

The Panthers spent 2nd and 3rd round picks on CBs in the 2016 draft, which is a pretty solid outlay of draft capital at a position. McCaffery and Samuel this year 1-2 for WRs/pass-catching RBs plus Funchess a few years ago (who's a bit of a TE/WR hybrid), and Kelvin Benjamin in the 1st in 2014 (who at this point appears to be a cross between WR and Jabba the Hutt). That's really not ignoring the position in terms of the draft. As for LTs, yeah, the team's really undervalued OL in general, but they're not alone in that; Seattle has done the same thing, relying on the QBs mobility more than spending money on protection. Has it worked? Not last year, but, relying on the same approach, Cam was the MVP two years ago. How is that not showing some validity with the approach? Yeah, Carolina's been a team heavily reliant on Cam's mobility and he's gotten beaten up, but it's gone well.

I see Carolina as a team that's drafted reasonably well and avoided salary cap hell by not overpaying horribly for veterans. I mean, this is a team that was a huge favorite in the Super Bowl, and they were presumably a couple Ron Rivera head injuries in the past away from realizing their RT was horribly overmatched and modifying a game plan to quite possibly winning it.

I guess Gettleman must have been really upset two years ago if his goal was 8-8 and they went 15-1. That must be why he snuck onto the field last year and gave Kuechly a concussion, hit Cam with a hammer a few times, and snuck into Josh Norman's room and told him to ask for a huge amount of money. He's EEEEEEEEEEEEEEVIL.

by morganja :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 8:24pm

He chased away a pro bowl LT. He had the draft capital. He had the salary cap. Yet he never addressed the most important need on the team, because he never quote saw the value that he was looking for. In the interim, Cam Newton squandered year after year getting banged around like a pinball.
He squandered a Pro Bowl CB and left an elite seven with a rookie secondary. Again, because he was looking for 'value'.
He is constantly bargain shopping. At some point you just got to spend the money on what you need.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 07/31/2017 - 11:49pm

Pro Bowl players are often the wrong selections. GMs should only be dumped for letting All-Pro players walk.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 10:46am

Jerry Richardson put a big statue of himself up outside the stadium. This might as well be a big sign that says, "I really want to be a beloved local icon." When guys like DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith leave and not only find success elsewhere but talk publicly about how disrespected they felt and how they never want to go back to Carolina, I'd have to imagine that bothers Richardson a lot.

Basically, I'm thinking Gettleman got fired because he didn't run a franchise with the primary goal making Jerry Richardson feel awesome all the time.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 11:04am


It's hard to imagine any circumstance that Steve Smith takes gracefully.

by Independent George :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 1:10pm

"I'm sorry Mr. Smith. I gave you diet coke instead of regular coke."

"Are you saying I'm slow and fat? Oh that's it, you're going down..."

For the record, I love Steve Smith, precisely because he is insane.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 11:40am

"I'm thinking Gettleman got fired because he didn't run a franchise with the primary goal making Jerry Richardson feel awesome all the time."

Apparently that's the one skill Marty Hurney has. Has this ever happened before, where a guy gets fired, and then replaced by the guy he initially replaced? (yes I know it's only interim..but still).

by njwelch75 :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 11:55am

Particularly one who has been out of football entirely for the last 4 years. The main reason a GM is there in-season is to keep up with bottom of the roster, bringing in practice squad guys from other teams and unsigned free agents to fill in for injuries. Should we really think somebody who has spent the last four years as a radio host knows where to look when a tackle is needed for an injury replacement?

by theslothook :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 12:44pm

This is the kind of move I would expect from Irsay or Dolan. I mean, what other reason could there be for hiring Hurney other than ass kissing?

by gofastjoey :: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 3:06pm


wasn't their salary cap situation in shambles when he took over? I wonder what their balance sheet looked like...

with that in mind, he did a great job as now the panthers seemingly were headed in the right direction; cap flexibility wise (although that matt kalil signing was strange)

i guess its just another example how rare it is for 1 person to be able to control/balance the personnel and salary cap apects of the job and how internal power struggles can hurt management organizations and the decision making process.

by Michael.Edits :: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 3:40pm

Keep Pounding

by Michael.Edits :: Sat, 07/29/2017 - 11:33pm

The team leader in sacks this year will be Jerry Richardson.

by morganja :: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 4:34pm

Thank the sweet and merciful Lord that we won't have to hear the ESPN South reporter, Dave Newton, mention two or three times each and every article that Gettlemen calls linemen 'Hog Mollies'.

by Guest789 :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 11:12am

They... they rehired Hurney. Intirm, but still. Hahaha.

by Michael.Edits :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 2:06pm

The only way rehiring Hurney can possibly work is if they immediately hire a capologist.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, in New Orleans, and in Tampa, people are dancing in the streets.

(Granted, they don't need an excuse in New Orleans, but still.)

by Sixknots :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 12:17pm

At this point in the (upcoming) season, teams are not going to be willing to let their FO personnel interview for the job. Hiring Hurney as interim may have been Richardson's only realistic move.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 6:00pm

That is a good point....which brings us back to the fact that firing your GM in July is an idiotic move.

by jackiel :: Thu, 07/20/2017 - 11:09pm

Or maybe it's genius. Perhaps he pulled a Bob Stoops to ensure that he could get the guy he really wants (Hurney). After all, it's easy to say that you hired the best candidate when all of the other candidates are physically unable to take the job.

I think the Gettleman's approach was perfectly fine, aside from his irrational trade ups in the draft. Having cap space flexibility is a wonderful asset, which is why teams like the Pack and the Pats always have the ability to reload in the offseason, despite the expensive talent already on the rostr. However, his people skills were dreadful, which is why players hated him. Franchising Norman and then rescinding the tender was just idiotic. Keeping him on the team for another year may have resulted in a few more wins last year, given how bad the pass defense was. Also, he didn't care about what he was doing to Norman. If Washington didn't come through, there was a real chance that he would have had to take short money on a 1 year deal. People remember those who take money out of their pocket...

by njwelch75 :: Mon, 07/24/2017 - 6:02pm

Hurney just fired Gettleman's personnel director, Mark Koncz.

An interim GM, who has been out of football entirely for four years, has fired a person who worked as pro scouting director from 2000-2013.

This team went to the Super Bowl 2 years ago after winning 15 games. What is happening?