Swap LaFell with any of them. He's on another club last year, and any one of them has been lost in Free Agency. If he signed now then the Huddle would be declaring him the future number one receiver and a potential all-pro.
Not saying he's great, but none of these guys are either.
We don't need a star receiver, all we need is someone who is a credible threat to get open. A strong offensive line will mean far more than a burner on the outside. Give Cam time, and we can move the ball even with Keary Colbert 2.0.
Gettleman's cap magic is the same stuff that GMs around the league routinely do--they all have staff to help them with options.
The draft gave us three pretty good players, and he did a great job finding talent on the cheap, but then he let most of it get away.
I think he's doing a good job setting up the defense to be great for years to come. And I kind of expect him to go heavy on the line in the draft, and stay with the BPA approach. It won't surprise me a bit if we don't get a receiver on the first day, but if Cam has protection we'll move the ball even with scrubs outside. And it will be a ton of fun to watch the Huddle explode if we don't, so there's that added benefit.
So far, the only thing that I really don't like about him is the way he treats players. Aside from Star, he's rarely said anything to make you think he feels close at all to them. That's a big change from how things were done before he got here, even before the bad contracts started. And it's not one I'm particularly fond of. Still, I would rather have someone who's great at finding quality depth than someone who's good at making our stars feel like family--that can be left to the coaches.
Rae Carruth was a lousy receiver before he was a killer, and Donald Hayes was a serviceable #2 at best (what people think LaFell is now). Maybe another issue in all this is that we're just not that good at drafting receivers?
It's one thing to cut a 35 year old receiver. It's another thing entirely to start the conversation in public, decide not to offer a restructured contract (which presumably would have taken care of 2015 and 2016), and cut him like a third string kicker. This is especially true when it's obvious that, to paraphras, "The answer is NOT on the roster."
There are so many ways the organization could have handled it better that it's hard not to think there was a message being sent somewhere. Although, it could just be that the current front office is kind of tone-deaf about how to treat star players.
Last year Gettleman basically told Jordan Gross that he had to restructure, and cut his pay in half (less than that actually). Gross decided to retire rather than come back and play another year, and from his play last year he has another year or two left in him. GMan took forever to answer a simple question, "Is Cam Newton the kind of player you build around?" And when he did, he was quick to throw in a caveat about it being time to win. He did the same cap stuff that other GMs around the league do every year, and we cheered him for it because all we've heard about is how horrible our contract situation is. He had what looks like a great draft. He did a good job bringing in talent and depth, and let's hope that becomes a trademark skill of his because he seems to have let most of it go already, but that's another topic.
So basically, he's doing a good job with the money, the draft, and patching holes. But now we've got one of the biggest holes on the team we've ever seen, and our GM hasn't really shown a ton of people skills with players we have come to love over the years.
I did a similar analysis a couple years ago of all his draft picks. What I found was that he absolutely nailed the first round, but in every other round he was just average. People are quick to point to Dwayne Jarrett and Eric Shelton as examples of his drafting ability, but they forget about Ryan Kalil and Travelle Wharton at the same time. His first round picks were almost always good, but the rest of them were hit on maybe 50% of the time (which is what you see around the league in general).
With that said, the Panthers scouting staff should get a lot of credit there. And they have good continuity with Gettleman, so I'm expecting the first round trend to continue this year even though we pick late.
Initially Hurney did a great job at identifying holes and plugging them with free agents and the draft. We went from 1-15 to the Super Bowl in two years, and if you remember we were generally expected to win a lot through at least 2006. Then in 2008 he seemed to start two trends that pretty much spelled his end (or exposed his flaws, depending on how you want to look at it). The first was to mortgage the future in an attempt to win the present. We saw that with his trade to get Jeff Otah, and he did it again the next year to get Everette Brown.
The second is kind of tied to the first in that he seemed totally unprepared for the Peppers mess (which, to be fair, was also caused by Peppers and his agent), because he showed that he was too loyal to "his guys" and was unprepared for them to not want to be here. You could see that loyalty in the contracts he gave, but the real problem wasn't in the contracts so much as it was in trying to stick with the old guard players. Every year he was here we were up against the cap, and every year he found money to do what he needed to do. But when Delhomme was done, and Peppers left, and Richardson wanted the rookies to get more playing time, he was caught flatfooted--he just didn't have a good plan for the future.
I think the biggest damage done to the franchise was at Richardson's direction, but it landed us Cam. And I also agree with the prior poster that Hurney should have been let go with Fox. He wasn't up to rebuilding the team with a different coach, and it showed.
But overall as GMs go, he did a pretty good job for a while. Right now he's getting blamed for everything that's gone wrong, which is silly, but in time I think that the mood toward him will soften. It happened with Henning, and then with Fox, and it will happen for him too.
The LaFell and Landry comparison is funny, but not off-base. In college LaFell made a ton of big catches, ran good routes, and was generally a big play possession receiver who ran good routes, blocked well, and didn't beat you with speed. Landry is a little faster, but other than that they looked pretty similar as college players. LaFell was first and second team all SEC his last two years, Landry was a second team all SEC receiver this year.
A major difference between them was who was throwing them the ball. Matt Flynn had ok accuracy and Jordan Jefferson was a running quarterback, and still LaFell caught 120 passes for 1,721 yards and 19 TDs in his final two years. Zach Mettenberger made amazing throws and has a genuine NFL arm--he made all of his receivers look pretty damn good. Landry has caught 133 passes for 1,766 yards and 15 TDs. LaFell played in a rush-oriented attack while Landry played in a Cam Cameron pro-set passing offense.
One other thing Landry did have that LaFell didn't--a number one receiver playing opposite him in OBJ.