I don’t mind eating crow when I’m wrong. I prefer the gamey bird cooked medium well and served with Stubb’s barbecue sauce. Thanks to Marty Hurney, I’ve been consuming lots of crow lately.
Like many of the CSR faithful, I was not pleased when Hurney was re-hired as interim GM then ultimately restored to the position full-time. Why dust off a failed GM when the next brilliant mind might be out there? Well, Marty came back and, frankly, I was expecting the same old Hurney.
But to my cautiously optimistic delight, Marty Hurney 2.0 appears to have learned the lessons that led to the downfall of Marty Hurney 1.0. The new version of Carolina’s old GM has made a host of wise football decisions lately, and it’s time he gets his due.
Overcoming the urge to overpay
The biggest problem with Marty Hurney 1.0 was re-signing veteran Panthers to above-market contracts. Marty Hurney 2.0 began his tenure by releasing beloved veterans Jonathan Stewart and Charles Johnson along with entrenched starter Kurt Coleman. Well, then.
Hurney 2.0 also let Star Lotulelei leave via free agency instead of overpaying to retain him. All-Pro Andrew Norwell departed as well but Carolina didn’t have the cap flexibility to re-sign him anyway.
The most notable veteran he did re-sign was Julius Peppers to a one-year, $5 million deal, which is below market for an established veteran coming off an 11-sack season. Re-signing kicker Graham Gano to a four-year, $17 million deal was an overpay, especially after losing Harrison Butker and his delicious rookie contract, but Gano did make 29-of-30 field goal attempts last season.
Overall, Hurney 2.0 has made some great roster decisions with veteran Panthers players.
Free agent values
The Panthers entered 2018 free agency with limited cap space but enough flexibility to add a few quality veterans if they managed their money wisely.
Signing corner back Ross Cockrell to a two-year, $6.6 million deal is an absolute bargain for the Panthers. Defensive tackle Dontari Poe’s three-year, $28 million contract is a good value as well. Cockrell and Poe should be immediate starters and have the potential to be impact players.
Hurney 2.0 also signed affordable, legitimate depth at positions of need with wide receiver Jarius Wright (three years, $7.5 million) and safety Da’Norris Searcy (two years, $5.7 million).
All four of these signings address significant roster gaps and their cap figures make sense both now and in the future. Hurney 2.0 has been wise in managing Carolina’s cap space while bolstering the roster via free agency.
Fleecing the trades
While trades in the NFL are fairly rare, Hurney 2.0 has executed three of them in the last seven months and, in my opinion, he has won each of them.
In September 2017 Hurney traded wide receiver Kaelin Clay to Buffalo for corner back Kevon Seymour. Buffalo subsequently placed Clay on waivers in October and the Panthers claimed him, essentially netting Seymour for nothing. Seymour became a regular contributor who played 32% of Carolina’s defensive snaps on a team that went 11-5 and made the postseason.
In October 2017 Hurney traded Kelvin Benjamin mid-season to Buffalo for third- and seventh-round 2018 picks. Benjamin is a bulky, power receiver and the Panthers are openly trying to get faster. Benjamin’s $8.5 million cap hit in 2018 will be followed by free agency in 2019, so his playing style and contract situation didn’t make long-term sense in Carolina. I hated the trade at the time but I’ve since changed my tune. Nice move, Marty.
In March 2018 Hurney surprisingly flipped cornerback Daryl Worley to Philadelphia for wide receiver Torrey Smith. The Eagles were considering releasing Smith, but by trading for him on his current contract (two years, $10 million remaining) and circumventing the uncertainties of free agency, the Panther acquired a player they were targeting on a reasonable deal. Worley has since been released by the Eagles after a concerning arrest and Hurney may have spotted some of the behaviors in the young player that could lead to off-field troubles.
Marty Hurney is nailing his trades.
Hooray for Hurney 2.0!
So is Marty Hurney 2.0 perfect? Of course not. He bungled the Harrison Butker situation. The decision for the organization to give just 64 offensive snaps to 2017 second round pick Taylor Moton is pretty baffling. Re-signing Aminu Silatolu this offseason is a head-scratcher after his history of consistently poor play.
But overall, Hurney 2.0 is proving his doubters wrong. He has made sound decisions with veteran players, free agent signings, and in trades. Frankly, he’s proved me wrong.
I don’t mind eating a little crow now and then if it means the Panthers are getting better. May the servings continue!
How do you grade Hurney 2.0?
This poll is closed
Worse than the foul taste of crow meat