Carolina Panthers

Panthers set up two GM candidate interviews; Marty Hurney still seen as front-runner

Carolina Panthers interim general manager Marty Hurney, center, is considered the front-runner to keep the job full time after returning to the team last summer after owner Jerry Richardson fired Dave Gettleman a week before training camp.
Carolina Panthers interim general manager Marty Hurney, center, is considered the front-runner to keep the job full time after returning to the team last summer after owner Jerry Richardson fired Dave Gettleman a week before training camp. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

The Carolina Panthers will bring in two external candidates to interview for the general manager position that Marty Hurney has held on an interim basis since July.

Houston Texans assistant general manager Jimmy Raye III and Buffalo Bills assistant college scouting director Lake Dawson will meet with the Panthers next week, a team source confirmed Saturday.

Raye and Dawson will satisfy the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for the positions of head coach and GM.

Former Panthers scout and ex-Wofford player Ryan Cowden, director of player personnel for the Tennessee Titans, also is expected to interview.

Hurney is considered the front-runner to keep the job full time after returning to the team last summer after owner Jerry Richardson fired Dave Gettleman a week before training camp.

If Carolina considers another internal candidate, senior executive scout Don Gregory, the team’s former college scouting director, could get an interview.

Hurney will not have a formal interview, the source said. Attempts to reach Hurney on Saturday were unsuccessful.

Dawson-FILE-1994
Lake Dawson, 45, has 22 years of experience as an NFL receiver (six years) and in college and pro scouting (16 years). Above, Dawson points to quarterback Joe Montana after Dawson made a catch against the Seattle Seahawks in a 1994 NFL game. Kansas City Star staff file photo

Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said the team is just starting the process and hasn’t finalized its interview list, yet.

Chief operating officer Tina Becker will lead the search, with assistance from Drummond, head coach Ron Rivera and Panthers associate general counsel Steve Argeris.

Becker took over the day-to-day operations of the team last month after Richardson stepped down. Richardson announced Dec. 17 he was selling the team hours after the publication of a Sports Illustrated article that included allegations of sexual and racial misconduct by Richardson.

The NFL is investigating Richardson, but has not said what outside firm is leading the investigation.

It’s unclear why the Panthers are beginning interviews now, considering Hurney’s one-year contract runs through June. He has the support of Rivera, who said after the playoff loss that he’d like to continue working with Hurney.

When Hurney was re-introduced as the interim GM last summer, team officials said Hurney would help with the process of finding his replacement. That’s no longer the case.

Hurney has attended the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl the past two weeks. He has been working under the assumption that he would oversee the Panthers’ free agency plans and the draft this year.

Hurney didn’t have to do a lot with the roster, although his trade of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo on Oct. 31 was largely praised for helping opening up the passing game. Devin Funchess played well as the No. 1 wideout for the first month after Benjamin was dealt, although his production dipped over the final month of the season.

Hurney has said he’d like to stay on as the team’s permanent general manager. “I love what I’m doing,” he told the Observer earlier this month.

Dawson was among the candidates the Panthers interviewed before Gettleman was hired in 2013.

Gettleman was hired several months after Hurney’s exit when the Panthers got off to a 1-5 start in 2012. Hurney and Richardson mutually agreed to part ways.

Dawson, 45, has 22 years of experience as an NFL receiver (six years) and in college and pro scouting (16 years). He had a nine-year stint in the Titans’ front office and was a scout with the Cleveland Browns before general manager Brandon Beane hired him in Buffalo last year.

Raye, 49, interviewed for the Texans’ GM job this month before Houston hired Brian Gaine.

Raye, a Fayetteville native, has 23 years of experience in the NFL, including 17 with the San Diego Chargers. He was San Diego’s director of player personnel from 2008-2012.

He overlapped with Rivera and new Panthers offensive coordinator and former Chargers head coach Norv Turner during their time in San Diego.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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