What happens when you don’t adjust to a changing league and you’re responsible for putting a team together? To borrow a TERRIBLY overused pop culture reference…YOU’RE FIRED!
That’s what the Carolina Panthers told ex-GM Marty Hurney on Monday October 22, 2012. Hurney had been Carolina’s GM since the 1998 season and he got his start in the Washington Redskins PR department after having served as a sports journalist earlier in his career life. He got his next big break when he became part of the front office of the San Diego Chargers, then in 1998 he was given his big chance to run a team on his own.
One might think that someone that began their career as a journalist and joined a front office in PR might not be a great GM candidate. However, I’ll say this, if I were starting a new NBA franchise today, there is one name I would have at the top of my list for GM…Bill Simmons. Marty Hurney’s failure as GM stemmed from his recent decisions to pay or not pay marquee players, not his journalist (As Brian Scalabrine says, the dark side) beginnings.
It all started with Hurney’s big decision to let the team’s best defensive player, Julius Peppers, leave and sign a big contract with the Chicago Bears in 2010. In 2011, Hurney signed Charles Johnson, his hopeful new defensive anchor, to a 6 year contract worth $72 million dollars, only $19.5 million less than the far superior Julius Peppers. Giving Jake Delhomme, a washed up, long-time Panthers QB (and currently out of the NFL), a 5 year $42 million contract. Then, in a passing league, he signed 3 , yes THREE, running backs to long contracts from 2010-2012. DeAngelo Williams (averaging 29.5 yards per game) to a 5 year $43 million extension. Jonathan Stewart (averaging 35.5 yards per game) to a 5 year $36.5 million extension. Finally, signed HB/FB Mike Tolbert (5.8 yards per game with 2 TD’s) to a 4 year $8.4 million contract.
That is a significant cap hit (which only gets larger every year as the cost for each player goes up during the later years of the contract) for a team that just drafted one of the most electric throwing/running QB’s in recent memory short of RGIII. This is no way to run a team in the NFL’s recent climate of pass happy offenses. This, and likely little else, is why Carolina decided to fire GM Marty Hurney. Will he get a new job? Probably, as a right hand man to someone he has become close with in a front office somewhere in the league.
Who will replace Marty Hurney in Carolina? There is of course some young guns that might jump into the discussion, but as far as ex-GM’s with some free time on their hands, ex-Bears GM Jerry Angelo has some connections with the team through Head Coach Ron Rivera and was a decent late round drafter. Don’t let him pick your 1st rounders and he might be able to help this team going forward. Keep your ear to the ground as to who they are interviewing and we’ll find out soon enough if they keep interim-GM Brandon Beane or bring in a young buck or big name GM.