Adam Peters, next Carolina Panthers general manager?

Adam Peters is being identified as a finalist for the general manager position with the Carolina Panthers. It’s been noted on CSR that I was an early champion for his candidacy, so I thought I would write a piece on how I found him and what background he has that would make him a good choice for the position.

I came across Peters while looking for general manager prospects in December 2019. I thought Marty Hurney may be fired soon after Ron Rivera was relieved as head coach of the team. My thoughts were the Panthers should go with someone both young and experienced from the scouting/player personnel side of the room. By the end of the month, I had two prospects I particularly liked for the job.

1. Andrew Berry: VP Football Operations, Philadelphia Eagles

2. Adam Peters: VP Player Personnel, San Francisco 49ers

Early in January 2020, the Panthers announced that Matt Rhule had been hired as new head coach but no word came down as to what was to be the fate of Marty Hurney. I was very happy with the Rhule hire as he was my favored choice after David Shaw had refused an interview for the position. Still, I was hoping a new general manager would be following soon. It wasn’t to be as, after the draft, Hurney was promoted from interim general manager to permanent status. Then, thunder and lightning, David Tepper was trying to bring in Andrew Berry for an interview with the Panthers but was refused permission by the Eagles front office. It seemed the Panthers were looking to upgrade the staffing although Cleveland swept in and hired Berry as their new general manager before Tepper could orchestrate a shuffling of personnel to bring him aboard.

Fast forward to late December 2020 and (a year too late) Marty Hurney is relieved as general manager of the Panthers. As others at CSR start calling out candidates for the job, Jaxon texts me to ask who I would like to be brought in…so I tell him my favorite is Adam Peters. Later, I put this in a couple of threads on CSR since his name had not been mentioned by anyone at that point.

Here’s what I know about Adam Peters

He grew up in California, a 49ers fan, and was an All-Conference tight end in high school, though he ended up an undersized non-scholarship defensive end at UCLA. I later learned one of his position coaches in his senior year was the Panthers’ own, Matt Rhule. Coaches there say his size kept his playing time limited but his leadership and work ethic were readily apparent. After graduation, the football department created a position for him in their recruiting office. It was in this position that he got his big break…though he didn’t know it at the time.

New England Patriots (2003-2008)

In his position with the UCLA recruiting office, Peters was assigned as host to visiting executives from the New England Patriots. Scott Pioli and Jason Licht were so impressed by him during their on-campus visit that, when they had a starter level position open up five months later, they hired him and brought him into their franchise. At 23, Peters became a scouting intern for the Patriots. During his tenure there he rose through the ranks to the position of regional scout.

Cowboys director of college scouting, Lionel Vitel spent two years working with Peters in New England. He gave a glowing account of Peters’ work with the franchise. "He’s smart, he works as hard as anyone in the building. He can read people, including players, has a great understanding of the game and is an independent thinker. Right there, those are a bunch of traits that the top general managers have. It’s not just identifying talent, it’s identifying what makes that talent tick. Adam’s very good at that." "Will Adam be a general manager one day? Yeah, that’s a no-brainer."

Bill Belichick once spoke to John Lynch of Adam Peters time with the Patriots and Lynch later said this of the conversation, "Bill Belichick kind of gives praise grudgingly…he thinks very highly of Adam."

Denver Broncos (2009-2016)

In early 2009, Adam Peters was brought to Denver as regional scout. Within two years he was promoted to national scout and two years after that became the asst. director of college scouting. Then in 2016 he became the Broncos director of college scouting. That’s a meteoric rise in only eight seasons that culminated with the roster he largely built winning Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers.

In 2013 John Lynch was a FOX broadcaster, while thinking of becoming a front office type in the NFL. At that time, Lynch was covering the Broncos’ preparations for the upcoming NFL Draft. He spent a month sitting next to Peters, then a national scout, and was struck by how general manager John Elway and director of player personnel Matt Russel sought out Peters’ input. Lynch would later say, "In certain rooms, you can tell when certain people are allowed to speak and Adam was one of those guys, they wanted to hear from." Lynch also said he spoke to Elway of Peters and John was most appreciative of his work.

San Francisco 49ers (2017-present)

When John Lynch was hired as the 49ers general manager in 2017, his first efforts were to bring Peters with him to San Francisco. Lynch, who had no previous executive experience, made getting Peters his first priority. He flew to Denver and spoke to John Elway about releasing Peters to San Francisco and how he had a great need and desire for Peters talent and knowledge. Elway would later speak of the decision to let Peters go, "He’s very good at what he does and I hate losing him, but I also know that it’s a great opportunity for him as far as the responsibilities that he was going to gain in San Francisco. Also, I know that he’s going to be able to go and help John. If it was anyone else, I probably wouldn’t have but I know it’s a great opportunity and he’ll be a tremendous help to John."

Peters became Lynch’s first hire and was on the job on the second day of his reign. There was never a job interview. Lynch had first-hand knowledge of Peters work and having received only the most positive comments from those NFL insiders that he spoke to, he knew where to focus his first efforts. Peters, for his part, knew he would grow and advance with the opportunity San Francisco presented.

As Lynch’s right-hand man, Peters has been credited with teaching Lynch the mechanics of organizing a draft board and fulfilling his duties as general manager Even with this, Lynch, who had a 15-year career and played in nine Pro Bowls, has said Peters is most valued for his player evaluation skills. Peters has put together a Super Bowl roster and weathered the storms of key injuries and battled through large numbers of his players being affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. He has been bloodied, bent and resurrected during his tenure in the NFL and is uniquely qualified and ready to take control of his own team and excel.

TL;DR – Peters is a top young NFL executive with three Super Bowl rings (2 w/NE, 1 w/DEN) to attest to his capabilities. Those NFL professionals who have worked with and around him know him as diligent, resourceful, energetic, knowledgeable, and steady. Just the kind of general manager I want for the Panthers.

Note: Many of the quotes in this article come from an Eric Branch piece in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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