Keeping their cards close to the chest, the Carolina Panthers have kept almost everyone in the dark about which way they're leaning for their vacant general manager position. While the rest of the league have interviewed prospective candidates, and continue their coaching searches -- the Panthers sat back, biding their time, and choosing to give head coach Ron Rivera one more season. This week the GM search really kicks in, with three interviews already scheduled, and two potential interviews.
Interviewing this week
- Leaning on Ernie Accorsi's background, the Panthers will be interviewing both Dave Gettleman and Marc Ross of the New York Giants this week. A majority of fans have expressed a fondness for director of college scouting Ross, but it's Gettleman's pro personnel background that fits in better with the list of candidates the team are bringing in. Everything has been pointing to the organization looking at executives who heavily dabble in evaluating practice squad talent, sizing up potential trade targets, and assessing the value of free agents -- in house, and from other teams.
There are conflicting reports on Ross and Gettleman -- both of whom are said to be the favorite for the job. You can read more about their situation here.
- Looking at other team's executives is difficult, because it's hard to quantify exactly what their role was inside an organization. As the Panthers bring in George Paton of the Minnesota Vikings this week, his team background may not inspire epic poems, but his managing of the team's pro personnel in a difficult time is admirable. Looking a little deeper into his role, it appears Paton was integral in advising the organization not to retain high-paid free agents Ray Edwards and Sidney Rice -- both of whom have failed to live up to the contracts they got in new cities. Marty Hurney was rarely able to part ways with in-house talent, so this aspect to his ability would be a huge boon. Also, Paton oversaw both the pro and college scouting departments this year, as the Vikings had a successful 2012 class.
People of interest
- There are some executives who carry no buzz, but inside league circles they're highly regarded. Such is the case with Lake Dawson of the Tennessee Titans. The youngest of the candidates, Dawson hasn't been confirmed for an interview yet, but he is someone who the Carolina Panthers are reported to be interested in. Overseeing both college and pro scouting, he is another candidate with a pro personnel background.
It will be interesting to see if the Panthers send a formal interview request this week. You can read about Lake Dawson's background as a player turned executive here.
- Ensuring the Carolina Panthers' search isn't relegated solely to the USA, Jim Popp of the Montreal Alouettes is expected to get an interview this week based on his strong history of success in the CFL. A finalist for the Indianapolis Colts' job in 2012, and interviewed for three positions in 2010 -- NFL buzz has been around Popp before. The Elkin, NC native has ties to the area, and the Panthers have a knack fOR bringing people home.
It's 'expected' that Popp will interview this week, but not confirmed. In the CFL he's built a dynasty in Montreal, and you can read about his exploits here.
Rumored, but nothing more
The third group are a talented collective of individuals around the league who the Panthers have been linked too off-hand, but there are no reports filed that indicate there are any ties to the team.
- Arizona Cardinals' VP of play personnel Steve Keim. Getting a lot of buzz in other cities, there's no indication the Panthers are interested.
- It's rumored that Jerry Richardson personally likes John Dorsey of the Green Bay Packers, but there has been no links between the sides other than this simple statement.
- Mid-season when Hurney was first fired, there was a small amount of buzz linking the Carolina Panthers to former Denver Broncos' GM Brian Xanders. Since that point everything has been quiet.
The in-house option
Finally there's interim general manager Brandon Beane. The Panthers can keep any interest in Beane as quiet as they like, and there's no reports whether they've already interviewed him, plan to interview him, or whether he's already a finalist for the job. Some analysts think that he will ultimately become Carolina's GM (and be the youngest in the league) while others indicate there is interest, but nothing concrete. Time will tell.