Monday, October 22, 2012
Marty Hurney has been relieved of his duties as general manager of the Carolina Panthers, who are off to a 1-5 start and have not made the playoffs since 2008.
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.
“This was an extremely difficult decision,” owner Jerry Richardson said in a statement released this morning by the team. “Marty made every effort to bring success to the Panthers and took the team to a Super Bowl and two NFC championship games. 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.”
The Panthers had their share of success under Hurney, but it was never sustained. They followed up their Super Bowl year with a 7-9 season. They followed up their ’08 12-4 season with an 8-8 mark. Hurney was never able to deliver back-to-back winning years.
Hurney had been with the Panthers since 1998. He was working without a contract so that made it an easier decision for Richardson in that respect. The GM since 2002, he took responsibility for the team’s failures.
“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 season.”
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.
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.
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 long time 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 pick.
Brandon Beane, the team’s director of football operations, is rumored to serve as interim general manager.
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