Boy, I did not expect this week to go like this when I woke up Monday morning. The Panthers sudden release of Dave Gettleman seemed like a giant joke, but Panthers fans suddenly faced the very real and frightening prospect of not having a general manager going into the 2017 season. The week that followed only became more hectic, as a team that’s known for it’s usually quiet offseasons was in the headlines almost every week.
Funny, we all joked a bit during free agency that 2017 would be the “reunion tour” for the Panthers after re-signing several pending free agents and adding Julius Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn. We didn’t know how right we were.
At first, in what seemed like a nightmare regression of methodology for his GM, the news broke that JR was interviewing Marty Hurney. But now that the dust has settled, the move does make a ton of sense for 2017. Hurney knows the players, organization, and area well. Hurney still maintains a great relationship with the team and Jerry Richardson. So to hand him the keys to a mostly finished job (preparing for the 2017 season) makes a ton of sense. Hurney only needs to make the decisions for the 53 man roster, which the coaching staff has a heavy hand in. He will also have to maintain the roster during the season in the event of injury, but the big GM stuff like the draft and the start of free agency is over. Hurney is simply a familiar place holder who will assist the team with finding a new GM. At least, that’s the idea.
While many were quick to jump and say that Marty Hurney was the guy who got this done, a deal like this isn’t something you hammer out over lunch. 4 years, $45 million is the second highest contract for a guard in the NFL, these things take time. This most likely very closely resembles what Dave Gettleman had in mind for Turner, who has handled guys like Gerald McCoy and J.J. Watt his entire career. Turner is only 24 now so it makes sense to keep him paid during his prime years.
The Panthers released the troubled offensive tackle following a failed physical. This shouldn’t come as much of a shock. Michael Oher wasn’t around until recently and even then he didn’t practice with the team. The team was eerily mum on his status all offseason, leaving some to wonder if Oher would retire. It is clear that his health was the priority here, and Oher’s football days may be over. Hopefully Oher gets the treatment he needs to live a long and healthy life.
So to summarize this week... WTF.
As an avid Gettleman defender for years, I can see some flaws in his ways. You don’t see many teams cutting ties with franchise cornerstones in such a cold way, and it’s easy from the outside looking in to say “yeah, but WINS!”. But we have to remember, this is an emotionally charged game where people put their bodies on the line and devote most of their young adult life to entertaining us, the fans. Plus, most of the more successful players become really involved in their communities. Football players are supposed to love the team they play for. They build bonds with the guys around them, they shed blood with these people. This creates brotherhood and loyalty. To be unceremoniously upended because you feel you are worth a certain amount to a team you’ve spent years fighting for is something that would leave me with sour grapes. I fought tooth and nail against those who chided his methods, but I so understand where they were coming from.
Ultimately, I am going to remember Gettleman for saving this franchise from a several year sting as bottom feeders. But clearly there was a marked difference in thought between Gettleman and Richardson. Funny how the “JR urges DG to spend in free agency” headlines start hitting the news waves and then it happens. Dave Gettleman told us from day one what he was going to do and he didn’t care what anybody thought about it. Sounds like Jerry Richardson didn’t know what that meant.