The Carolina Panthers are once again in the market for a franchise-defining leader. In the past three years the team has acquired new ownership and a new coach. Now it is the general manager’s chair that is open. Marty Hurney had been with the Panthers either in contract or in spirit since he was first hired in 1998. In many ways, this is going to be the biggest change for the Panthers in recent memory.
There are couple of different directions the Panthers could go for that change. They just fired the steady, traditional hand of Marty Hurney, so it’s probable they will want somebody more open to new ideas and math. My guess is that Rhule will probably have the most power in the organization after this shake up, so no matter what they’ll want to have a first time general manager who isn’t looking to put his stamp on top of everybody else’s. Will they be young and hungry or an experienced executive who is getting their first shot at the general manager chair? Here are your early top three candidates for the open Carolina Panthers job:
Samir Suleiman - Director of Player Negotiations, Carolina Panthers
Suleiman was the top football executive that Tepper brought with him from the Steelers. If anybody in the building is Tepper’s guy, it’s him. I know Panthers fans are wary of another ‘cap wizard,’ but Suleiman is actually one of the best. Tepper has already come out in favor of greater integration of analytics into front office decision making.
The Panthers owner spoke of building a “collaborative” and data-driven football operation, one that involves more analytics and computerized scouting, but not one that ignores his admitted fondness for “old school” football.
- Darin Gantt, Panthers.com
A Suleiman hire would mean that the guy who knows how to pull the purse strings is also onboard with Tepper’s and Rhule’s visions for the future.
Dan Morgan - Director of Player Personnel, Buffalo Bills
The former Panthers great doesn’t actually have any connections to the current Panthers front office now that Hurney is out. What he does have is an impressive resume in the business of football. That began in Seattle where he turned a 2010 internship into their Director of Player Personnel in a few short years. He was poached by former Panthers assistant general manager and former heir apparent, Brandon Beane, to fill the same role with the Buffalo Bills in 2018.
Beane and Morgan have, in very little time, turned the Bills from a laughing stock to a contender in the AFC. Morgan is currently a hot name for general manager jobs around the league and is probably one of the reasons why Tepper wanted to get a jump start on interviews—just like he did last year with the early release of Ron Rivera that led to a heated race for Matt Rhule.
Mike Borgonzi - Director of Player Personnel, Kansas City Chiefs
If you build the roster that wins the Super Bowl then you are going to get some interest for every general manager job that opens up, those are just the rules. He’s has the opportunity to learn under a variety of general managers while coming up the ranks in Kansas City, from Scott Pioli to John Dorsey. That means he has seen plenty of success and failure at that level. He’ll be another hot name that the Panthers will have to pounce on if they want to beat the Falcons or the Texans to the hire.