Ex-Panthers general manger Dave Gettleman’s name has surfaced again for the first time since owner Jerry Richardson unceremoniously dumped him in July about a week before the start of training camp.
Gettleman is considered the favorite to land the GM job with the Giants – his former employer and the team whose search is being run by Ernie Accorsi, Gettleman’s close friend and the consultant responsible for bringing Gettleman to Charlotte in 2013.
Meanwhile, not much has been said or written about the man who both preceded and succeeded Gettleman since high-maintenance wideout Kelvin Benjamin was shipped to Buffalo on Halloween.
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And that’s just fine by Marty Hurney.
Hurney may have mellowed during his second stint with the Panthers, but – despite, or maybe because of, his sportswriting background – is not keen on making the story about himself.
We know a little bit more about Hurney’s situation than we did when Richardson named him the interim general manager two days after Gettleman’s ouster, but not much.
Hurney’s one-year contract runs through June, which means he will be directing both free agency and the draft for the Panthers.
After that, things gets a little more muddled – although how the Panthers play over the next three weeks could help clear up Hurney’s future.
If the Panthers (9-4) finish strong and have a good showing in the playoffs, Hurney could end up losing the “interim” tag.
If they fall on their faces and miss the playoffs, Hurney, head coach Ron Rivera and a bunch of other folks at 800 S. Mint Street could be looking for work.
If the first scenario comes to pass, Hurney deserves a shot at the full-time gig.
It’s not just that the Panthers are winning again. Rivera and his staff – and even Gettleman to a lesser extent – deserve more of the credit for that.
But Hurney has provided stability to a franchise that was in desperate need of some following the jarring departures of Gettleman and team president Danny Morrison.
Hurney cleaned up Gettleman’s messes with linebacker Thomas Davis and tight end Greg Olsen with contract tweaks that made sense for the players and the organization. (Adding incentives to Olsen’s deal rather than giving him a new contract saved Richardson some money this year.)
Hurney also managed to open up the offense and improve the locker room by dumping Benjamin on the Bills for a pair of 2018 draft picks – a third-rounder and a seventh-rounder.
When the emotional part of my brain takes over, that’s not good a lot of times.
Marty Hurney, on the day he was introduced as the Carolina Panthers’ interim GM
The Panthers have won four of their five games since the trade. And though their passing statistics have dipped since Benjamin’s departure, the Panthers have averaged 19 more yards per game and 4.6 more points without him.
When Hurney was re-introduced last summer, he said some of his mistakes – critics would point to the big contracts he doled out to running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart and linebacker Jon Beason – might have been because he was too loyal.
“When the emotional part of my brain takes over, that’s not good a lot of times,” he said then.
Panthers officials agree that Hurney has been more analytical and less emotional his second go-round.
Hurney, who turns 62 next week, went to a college game nearly every weekend to prepare for the draft (and squeezed in a trip to North Dakota State to see his son Joe in the FCS playoffs for the University of San Diego).
When Hurney returned in July the team said he would help identify the next GM, which could be a little awkward if he wants the job. Hurney declined comment Tuesday and hasn’t said whether he’s interested in sticking around.
But given the trust Richardson has in him, it’s tough to envision Hurney serving as a placeholder if the Panthers are a playoff team.
Hurney should get an interview, as should a few other qualified candidates. At least one of them will have to be a minority candidate for the Panthers to comply with the NFL’s Rooney Rule.
But those are concerns for a later day.
Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said Richardson is concentrating on the task at hand.
“Our focus is on the season right now,” Drummond said. “That focus will shift when the time is appropriate.”
In the meantime, Hurney will continue overseeing personnel, preparing for the draft and meeting with Rivera on any roster moves that might improve the Panthers’ playoff chances.
The next several weeks figure to be interesting for the Panthers’ former GM and their interim one, who also might be their next full-time general manager.