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Cotchery signing gets Marty Hurney's seal of approval

By Jonathan Jones
jjones@charlotteobserver.com

Former Panthers general manager Marty Hurney knows how loud the cries for a wide receiver in Carolina have been, and Thursday he gave his seal of approval for the Jerricho Cotchery signing.

Speaking on ESPN’s NFL Insiders, Hurney praised the Panthers for inking Cotchery to a two-year, $5 million deal.

“I think for starters it probably calms the building down and people who are saying they don’t have a veteran receiver,” Hurney said. “I think it’s an excellent signing. He’s a big, smart slot receiver, basically, who has very good hands. I think he’ll be a weapon for Cam Newton. Now you have Greg Olsen at tight end, Cotchery at slot. Now they go out and draft some speedy receivers, and I think Dave Gettleman and the Panthers have a plan and that’s so important this time of year. This is a very good signing.”

A small sample size of my Twitter mentions would show Panthers fans would want other questions asked and answered, most notably answering for big running back contracts. While ESPN didn’t touch on that topic, Hurney was asked about drafting a quarterback at No. 1.

Hurney talked about the difficulty of predicting a quarterback’s success in the league and the process the Panthers went through to select Newton No. 1 overall in 2011.

“This is a quarterback league, and you do not win without a quarterback,” Hurney said. “You start at quarterback, we went through quarterbacks and said, ‘Is there anyone who has the potential to be a franchise quarterback?’ The more we got to know Cam the more we got investigate him, we felt very good that he could be our franchise quarterback.”

The Texans have the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft and may take a quarterback. It’s a similar decision Houston faced in 2002 when Hurney was with the Panthers, who had the No. 2 pick that year.

The then-expansion Texans made it clear early on they would take quarterback David Carr with the No. 1 overall pick, leaving the Panthers having to figure out if they wanted North Carolina’s Julius Peppers at No. 2.

The decision 12 years ago mirrors this year, where the Texans could go quarterback or take South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

“What frustrates people sometimes (about Peppers) is you don’t necessarily see it play in and play out, but it’s very rare to find players of that ability that can make game-changing plays like he can,” Hurney said.

“What is being said about Clowney was being said exactly about Julius Peppers… We had two months knowing we were on the clock. The question was Julius Peppers play with the motor, does he have the energy? We had to bring in a tape of him playing basketball for North Carolina to show that he did have the intensity.”

Hurney will be back on NFL Insiders today at 3:30.

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