The Carolina Panthers acted quickly to replace Dave Gettleman, who was fired in surprising fashion on Monday, announcing on Wednesday the selection of Marty Hurney as the interim general manager for the 2017 NFL season.
Hurney, as most folks are probably aware, was the GM who was actually fired before Gettleman was hired. He was fired during the 2012 season after the Panthers struggled to win and were in bad shape from a salary cap perspective. Gettleman is largely credited for cleaning up those cap issues, but was relieved of his duties, potentially for reasons not related to on-field performance by Carolina, just about a week before training camp for the 2017 season began.
"I never lost the connection with the organization," Hurney said in a statement released by the team. "I've gained a lot of perspective and have looked at things in different ways. I think I can help this team in a lot of areas. I think I've grown. And I feel I'm better prepared to come in this time and do a better job than I did over the 12 years I was general manager last time."
Hurney previously served as general manager for the Panthers from 2002 through 2012.
According to Max Henson of Panthers.com, Carolina owner Jerry Richardson's felt the hiring of Hurney "made a lot of sense for an easy transition under difficult circumstances" given the limited time before the season began.
The original legacy that Hurney left with the Panthers is a complicated one, but it was obvious that his firing was a result of failed drafts and some bad contracts that were handed out while he was running the Panthers organization. Hurney took over as GM in 2002 following a stint as Director of Football Operations at the same time as John Fox was hired as coach. The Panthers were coming off a disastrous one-win season in 2001, but would make the Super Bowl (losing to the Patriots) just two years later.
For a long time, Hurney was pulling the levers on some impressive draft classes. He snagged Julius Peppers, Jordan Gross, Chris Gamble, Thomas Davis, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart with successive first-round selections from 2002 through 2008. Four of those guys -- Peppers, Davis, Williams and Stewart -- are still active in the NFL, with three of them still being on the Panthers roster (Peppers left and came back, Williams is a free agent). During that stretch, he also selected Ryan Kalil (Carolina's starting center) and Charles Johnson (another Panthers defensive end) in the same draft (2007).
Hurney was the GM responsible for trading for tight end Greg Olsen (stolen from the Bears) and for drafting Cam Newton with the No. 1 overall pick in 2011 (not as big a slam dunk as you would think).
However, he was also the GM who signed a bunch of players to a bunch of questionable deals following the 2011 lockout, including several of the players drafted during that 2002-2008 stretch. And the drafts from 2009 through 2011 were some of the worst decision-making you will ever see from a GM. He dealt away multiple future first-round picks to select Jeff Otah and Everette Brown with early selections and then went all in on Jimmy Clausen as a second-round pick. In fairness to Hurney, a lot of draft evaluators liked Clausen coming out of Notre Dame. Counterpoint: he drafted Jimmy Clausen.
The upside of this move is that Hurney is a familiar face for many folks on the current roster. If part of Gettleman's ouster was related to contract issues with Thomas Davis and Greg Olsen, well, they will probably find the other side of the negotiating table far more amicable for them in 2017. Take that however you want it, but doling out big contracts to veterans over the age of 30 can backfire badly.
Just ask Marty Hurney, the new Panthers GM.