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Why Panthers fired Gettleman as GM

SB Nation logo SB Nation 4 days ago Geoff Schwartz

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Just eight days away from camp, the Carolina Panthers shocked the football world with the firing of general manager Dave Gettleman. The timing of this firing leads me to believe something emotional happened over the last week, and I’ll lay it out right here.

When you fire a general manager at an odd time, normally there’s someone waiting in the wings. The theoretical general manager in waiting, Brandon Beane, left for Buffalo in early May. The Panthers don’t seem to have that person as of right now. I’d venture a guess that it’s too late to hire an outside person for the job, so someone within the Panthers will be given the job on an interim basis until the following offseason.

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Let’s look at the Panthers roster. Gettleman was handed much of the backbone of the Panthers. Cam Newton, Ryan Kalil, Greg Olsen, Jonathan Stewart, Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly. He’s successfully drafted Kawann Short, Trai Turner and James Bradberry. His two wide receivers from the early rounds of the draft, Kelvin Benjamin (first round) and Devin Funchess (second), have been underwhelming. So has another first-round pick, linebacker Shaq Thompson. He was supposed to replace Thomas Davis.

Gettleman needed to hit a home run this offseason.

The list of Panthers’ offseason needs included: left tackle, cornerback, defensive end, playmakers for Newton and a deal for Short. Gettleman crossed them all off, signing left tackle Matt Kalil, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, defensive end Julius Peppers, signing Short to a five-year deal and drafting offensive weapons Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. Everything should be pointing up. So what was the tipping point?

Gettleman has never been known for his bedside manner. He left Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams and Josh Norman fuming with the way he handled their contract situations.

Thomas Davis, entering the final year of his deal, wants a new contract. He wants to retire as a Panther. Greg Olsen, an elite tight end and a favorite weapon of Cam Newton, wants to redo his deal. He’s underpaid. These deals usually get done before camp to limit the distraction of a holdout. Those two players are also favorites of Panthers owner, Jerry Richardson, making it that much tougher for the general manager.

My read on Gettleman is that he’s an old school guy. He doesn’t value loyalty; he values wins. That doesn’t always vibe with ownership in Charlotte.

So you have an owner that wants to win now with his guys and a GM with a subpar drafting history, a precedent for letting legends walk away unhappy, and Davis and Olsen wanting new deals. My guess is all of this added up to an emotional weekend resulting in Jerry Richardson deciding to part ways with Gettleman.

RELATED SLIDESHOW: Top 2017 draft picks (provided by USA TODAY Sports)

The 2017 NFL Draft: <p>The 2017 NFL draft prospects pose before the start of the first round the 2017 NFL Draft at Philadelphia Museum of Art.</p> 2017 NFL Draft: The Top Picks


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