Less than 18 months removed from a dominant 2015 season that concluded with an NFC championship and just two losses, the Carolina Panthers are moving in a different direction. They announced the firing of general manager Dave Gettleman on Monday.
Gettleman took over prior to the 2013 season and helped assemble a roster that ventured to three straight playoff brackets, winning all three AFC South titles in that span and booking a berth in Super Bowl 50. Carolina will now attempt to find another GM with training camp barely a week away.
“After much thought and a long evaluation of our football operations, I have decided to relieve Dave Gettleman of his duties as general manager,” owner Jerry Richardson said in a statement. “I want to thank Dave for the role he played in our success over the past four seasons. While the timing of this decision is not ideal, a change is needed.”
This is obviously surprising news for a franchise that’s been one of the NFC’s most consistent over the past few years. The Panthers have played four home playoff games during Gettleman’s tenure and won three postseason games. Although they did not make a good account of themselves in a 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in their Super Bowl appearance, many players from that NFC title team remain.
The Panthers join the Bills, Chiefs and Redskins as those who opted to part ways with their GMs after the draft. The Chiefs and Panthers’ decisions, in particular, came at odd junctures on the NFL calendar. And the Bills filled their GM vacancy with former Panthers assistant GM Brandon Beane, depriving Carolina of a natural in-house candidate.
Gettleman authorized contract extensions for Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly but was also involved in some high-profile decisions that ended up seeing key players depart. Steve Smith left in somewhat acrimonious fashion after the ’13 season, and Gettleman made the decision to rescind Josh Norman’s franchise tag. That hurt Carolina’s pass defense last season, with the team going with much less proven players. The team was also involved in negotiations with Greg Olsen and Thomas Davis regarding potential new contracts.
The 66-year-old executive came to Charlotte after being part of the New York Giants’ front office for over a decade. Gettleman served as Big Blue’s player personnel director from 1999-2011, being part of both of the Giants’ Super Bowl teams.