When the news that the Carolina Panthers plan on bringing back Marty Hurney as their interim GM, there was a sudden panic across the internet. Panthers fans, dazed and confused, started digging their doomsday bunkers complete with DVR’d games from the 2015 NFL season. Why the knee jerk reaction? Is it warranted?
Well, yes, it pretty much is.
Hurney is not looked upon fondly by the vast majority of Panthers nation. Taking a look at his history with the team explains why.
From 2009 until 2011, Hurney had twenty five drafts picks to develop a winning team. Of those twenty five, he was able to find only two long term starters. One of them was the number 1 pick in Cam Newton. The other was a defensive end with injury issues named Greg Hardy. Jimmy Clausen and Everette Brown were on top of Hurney’s draft board in other years. Let that sink in.
But it isn’t Hurney’s less than spectacular (to put it nicely) draft history that has Carolina Panthers fans most concerned. The contracts that were signed during Hurney’s tenure placed the Panthers in salary cap hell. A hell in which Dave Gettleman slowly got the franchise out of over the past few seasons. 5 years and 43 million for Deangelo Williams when Jonathan Stewart was just drafted? 6 years 37 million for Jonathan Stewart the very next year? All that salary cap tied up in two running backs when the NFL was moving away from the ground game? Ouch. And don’t even get me started on extending Jake Delhomme after the worst playoff performance in decades or giving Olindo Mare 4 years and 12 million to be bad at kicking.
Bill Voth of Panthers.com pointed out yesterday on twitter that at least some of those contracts were not all on Marty Hurney. Jerry Richardson himself had some input. But does that really matter? If the end result is a bad product on the field, and the recipe for that result is once again calling the shots, shouldn’t fans be concerned? Hurney’s contracts and poor draft skills kept the Panthers from ever putting a consistent product on the field. And now, Panthers fans see him walking back in the door just as those issues are mostly fixed. Concerned? Darn right you should be.
When Hurney was fired in 2012, Jerry Richardson himself said “Unfortunately, we have not enjoyed the success we hoped for in recent years” when explaining the move. Now that Hurney is reportedly coming back into the building, the fans deserve to hear what has changed since then. Why is Hurney now capable of success? I want to be on board with this, I really do. But I need convincing.
The good news? Hurney is said to only be an interim GM. A stop gap until the Carolina Panthers can find a permanent replacement for the best GM they have ever had. How much damage could be done in that amount of time? With contracts looming for Greg Olsen, Thomas Davis, and Trai Turner, we may soon find out.
Now if you will excuse me, I have a bunker to dig.