Bill Polian was the Panthers' first GM, and it appears the organization will pick someone from a similar background - Ezra Shaw
Fresh eyes will look at the Carolina Panthers organization.
Things are changing in Carolina, and the method the Panthers are employing to find their new GM typifies the true, foundational change fans have been looking for over the past decade. To this end, the organization are bringing in an outside adviser to spearhead the search for a new GM, which refreshingly brings new eyes to a somewhat stale franchise.
According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, two league sources confirm that the Panthers will bring in an outside consultant to help conduct the search. Furthermore, an industry insider believes Jerry Richardson will ultimately hire someone with a strong scouting background, the antithesis of a money-man like Marty Hurney.
Superficially this seems like a ho-hum move-- okay, so the Panthers are getting outside assistance. However, this is representative of a president in Danny Morrison, and owner in Jerry Richardson who are acknowledging that they don't know who to turn to next, and that they need assistance is scouring the league for the best possible GM.
When Jerry Richardson picked Bill Polian to be his first general manager it was a simple decision. The organization was young, PSLs needed to be sold, and what better way than to bring in an executive with a history of turning trash into treasure overnight, even if that didn't mean sustained success. Several years, and a bruised relationship later, the Carolina Panthers needed to once again energize the fanbase to keep the business growing. To this end the oft-labeled 'cheap' Richardson lured George Seifert out of retirement with an unheard of 5 year, $25 million contract. To put this in perspective, the San Francisco 49ers are paying Jim Harbaugh a 5 year, $25 million deal inked in 2011-- Seifert's deal was in 1999.
The story is known from here-- Seifert ran the franchise into the ground, burned the assets, and cap space to a point where it was very difficult for the Panthers to find someone willing to take on the organization's problems. At this time Richardson didn't have a stellar reputation due in-part to his dealings with Polian and Seifert, which made the search for a general manager difficult. Ultimately Marty Hurney was promoted from within, and we know the story from there.
In all these situations the through-line is common: The decision was Jerry Richardson's.
Three general managers, three different backgrounds-- the scout (Polian), the coach (Seifert), and the cap guru (Hurney). If reports are true, then this is coming full-circle, and the next general manager will have a scouting background. Pair this with Pat Yasinkas' report that the Panthers already have interest in someone under contract from another team, and the venn-diagram get's a little easier to piece together. The obvious man who fits both criteria is Marc Ross of the New York Giants. A former scout for the Bills, and director of college scouting for the Giants since 2007-- he's widely regarded as one of the next in line to get a general manager job.
With the search being turned over to a fresh set of eyes, it's a wonderful thing. Finally, maybe, we'll see a true culture change for the Carolina Panthers