Panthers expats and current Buffalo brain trust Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott were running buddies during their six years together in Carolina.
But if the two wanted to share ideas after setting out from Bank of America Stadium or the team hotel when the Panthers were on the road, those conversations had to occur during the first part of the run.
After that McDermott would be a ghost.
“We’d all run out to a certain area together in a new city,” Beane recalled Tuesday. “And then the faster ones would leave the slower ones -- like me -- in the back.”
During those 5-7 mile runs, Beane said he and McDermott never discussed the possibility of working together anywhere other than Charlotte.
“We just more talked about the Panthers and stuff in the league. A lot of times we’d talk about our roster, maybe some guys that were really doing well or maybe some guys he thought we needed to replace,” Beane said during a phone interview with the Observer.
“And I would talk about ways we could do it, if I agreed as well. Sometimes I’d just say, ‘Be patient. We understand. We see what you’re seeing. We’re on it, we just don’t have the solution, yet.’ ”
That sort of open communication will come in handy in their current roles.
Tuesday was Beane’s fifth day as the Bills’ general manager, a tenure that to this point has required him to stay on his cell phone for long stretches while trying to build a front office and a scouting department.
McDermott, the Panthers’ former defensive coordinator, preceded Beane in Buffalo by four months. After the Bills fired general manager Doug Whaley the morning after last month’s draft, it seemed like a fait accompli that Beane would wind up in Buffalo with his old jogging partner.
The more extreme Panthers fans took to Twitter to call out McDermott for having the audacity to hire someone he knows and trusts.
“That’s natural when you pluck somebody, especially somebody in the powerful role (of) a head coach or GM. Generally they’re going to go back to their roots,” Beane said. “But in all honesty Sean was not involved other than -- my understanding is he gave my name on a list of six to seven names.”
Beane, 40, did just about everything for the Panthers except line the field, and he would have done that if he’d been asked. The past two years he was Dave Gettleman’s assistant GM, and, as such, the obvious successor to Gettleman if Panthers owner Jerry Richardson wanted to stay in-house.
Beane felt like that was the case, but deferred to Richardson on the subject.
Beane said he’s had one conversation with Gettleman since he left last week. It wasn’t to ask permission to interview one of Gettleman’s employees -- not yet, anyway.
“It’s more out of courtesy right now. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t,” Beane said. “I’m not closing any doors. I’m working through some things.”
Gettleman told the Observer last week that all the Panthers’ scouts and front office personnel are under contract and strongly suggested he’d block any attempt by Beane to bring any of them with him to Buffalo.
Beane says he plans to do things “the right way” in Buffalo, which owns the NFL’s longest playoff drought at 17 years. The Panthers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012 last season, but Beane was pleased with how Carolina’s offseason played out following the 6-10 finish.
“I thought we answered a lot of questions that we had and I’m sure the public had. We mapped out free agency there and it fell pretty good for us,” he said. “We put our target on a decent amount of guys and we got a good portion of them.”
The biggest and most expensive target was left tackle Matt Kalil, who -- along with big brother Ryan -- not only made for a nice, warm-and-fuzzy story but became something of a necessity with Michael Oher’s uncertain status now at eight months and counting.
“In his best interest you don’t ever want to try to put somebody back out there if they’re not ready. So that was a little bit of an unknown,” Beane said. “We felt why go into the offseason and not answer that question? So we went out, targeted Matt Kalil and got him.”
Oher hasn’t been around Charlotte during the voluntary portion of offseason workouts, but he popped up last week in Nashville, Tenn., to have his mug shot taken and be booked on a misdemeanor citation stemming from an altercation with an Uber driver.
Beane, like his former co-workers, isn’t sure what to expect where Oher is concerned.
“I would assume (Oher would play), but I don’t know,” he said. “I think all indications are that he will. But I don’t know, to be honest with you.”
Beane has his own issues to deal with now, starting with the Bills’ quarterback. While McDermott recently gave Tyrod Taylor a public vote of confidence, Beane was more restrained.
Asked if Taylor would be the starter when Carolina-North comes to Carolina-South in Week 2, Beane said: “Don’t know that.”
“Tyrod is the starter right now as we go through the spring,” he added. “But we’ve got some other guys who will compete. It’s an open competition at every position.”
Beane says it will be a “a little odd” returning to Carolina in September wearing a different shade of blue and walking out of the visitors tunnel.
So if the Stanly County native and UNC Wilmington grad really was next in line behind the 66-year-old Gettleman, why leave?
“I thought this was a great opportunity. It had to check a lot of boxes, and it really did,” he said. “It had to blow me away, knowing my situation in Carolina. And it did.”
The move will allow Beane and McDermott to resume their running sessions and explore new routes in and around Buffalo -- as soon as the snow melts.