Panthers GM Hurney fired after team’s 1-5 start
Marty Hurney was fired Monday as general manager of the Carolina
Panthers, who are off to a 1-5 start and have not made the playoffs
Brandon Beane, the team’s director of football operations, will
serve as interim general manager, a person familiar with the
situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on the
condition of anonymity because the move has not been announced.
The Panthers have the worst record in the NFC in a season that
began with big expectations. The dismissal came a day after a 19-14
loss to Dallas.
Hurney, the GM since 2002, took responsibility for the team’s
”I am very fortunate to have been a part of one of the best
organizations in the NFL since 1998,” he said. ”As general
manager I will always regret not helping us win the Super Bowl or
having back-to-back winning seasons. I hope this change starts
accomplishing the direction to those goals. … I am responsible
for everybody in coaching, the players, the scouts and everybody in
football operations. After six weeks, we are 1-5 coming off a 6-10
Hurney was general manager when the Panthers went to the 2003
Super Bowl and the NFC championship games in the 2003 and 2005
seasons as well as winning the NFC South in 2008.
He was well liked and respected within the organization, but his
personnel decisions in the draft and in free agency were routinely
criticized by fans tired of the Panthers losing ways.
”Marty made every effort to bring success to the Panthers and
took the team to a Super Bowl and two NFC championship games,”
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said. ”Unfortunately, we have not
enjoyed the success we hoped for in recent years. I have the
greatest respect and admiration for Marty and will always
appreciate the way he tirelessly served the organization.”
Carolina’s last playoff victory came in 2005 when it reached the
NFC Championship game before losing to the Seattle Seahawks. The
Panthers appeared to turn things around in 2008 when they won the
NFC South championship and earned a first-round bye before getting
upset 33-13 at home by the Arizona Cardinals. They haven’t been
back to the playoffs since.
Hurney’s philosophy has been to build through the draft and
re-sign proven players rather than going after high-priced free
agents. But the team wasted a number of high draft picks through
the years on players who became busts.
The personnel blunder fans that angered fans most was when
Hurney gave 34-year-old quarterback Jake Delhomme a five-year,
$42.5 million contract months after he turned the ball over six
times in the playoff loss to Arizona.
Delhomme started 2009 with a five-turnover game against
Philadelphia and was cut after the season. Delhomme cost the
Panthers $12 million under the salary cap in 2009 even though he
was no longer on the roster because the team had to absorb the
remainder of his signing bonus.
Eric Shelton, Dwayne Jarrett, Jimmy Clausen and Everette Brown
were all players who were drafted in the second round, but failed
to meet expectations. Brown, in particular, was a costly choice in
2009 because the Panthers gave up their first-round draft pick the
following year to the San Francisco 49ers to get him. Brown lasted
only two seasons in Carolina and is now out of the league.
There were other poor decisions, including giving up a
second-round pick in 2011 to the New England Patriots for the
rights to draft Armanti Edwards in the third round in 2010. Edwards
has not been a factor after trying to make the transition from
college quarterback at Appalachian State to receiver/returner in
Hurney also was criticized for giving big free-agent contracts
to keep the team’s core intact following a 2-14 season in 2010. He
gave defensive end Charles Johnson, who has never been to a Pro
Bowl, a contract worth $72 million and also handed out a five-year,
$43 million contract with $21 million in guaranteed money to
running back DeAngelo Williams. Williams hasn’t done much since and
serves as a part-time player.
This past offseason the Panthers gave fellow running back
Jonathan Stewart a deal worth more than $5 million per year. That
left the team with two high-priced running backs at a time when the
NFL has moved toward becoming a passing league.
Hurney also cut kicker John Kasay and handed Olindo Mare a
four-year, $12 million deal that included a $4 million signing
bonus. Mare lasted one season.
He did well with many of his first-round draft picks over the
years, landing players like Jordan Gross, Jon Beason, Jonathan
Stewart, Chris Gamble and Cam Newton, last year’s No. 1 overall