The Panthers made a big splash Monday by firing GM Marty Hurney. Although the timing was interesting since Carolina’s season will be over in just a couple of weeks, it wasn’t the result of any sudden developments or changes. The move had apparently been in the works for a while, as Albert Breer of SI.com was told that Hurney was in the final year of his contract and that he and owner David Tepper had been talking about an exit for weeks now (Twitter link). Breer adds that the analytics-minded Tepper wants to “modernize” the personnel side. As for names to keep an eye on for the now vacant role, Breer tweets that 49ers VP of player personnel Adam Peters is one to watch. Peters played for Panthers head coach Matt Rhule back when Rhule was the defensive line coach at UCLA.
It sounds like Tepper knows more or less what he wants, and accordingly the relatively new owner told the media on Monday he won’t be using an outside search firm like some teams for the GM opening. To clarify on the modernization, David Newton of ESPN.com reiterates that the Panthers will look for a new GM who “is driven by data and analytics, characteristics that didn’t define” Hurney. Carolina seems to have found their coach of the future with Rhule but they’ve still got plenty of questions to address moving forward, like whether or not Teddy Bridgewater is the long-term answer under center. Who they hire here should tell us a lot about the direction they plan to take.
Now that we’ve broken down most of the Hurney fallout, let’s pivot to the rest of the front office and coaching staff talk around the league:
- Former Texans GM Rick Smith looks like a hot candidate this cycle. Smith recently interviewed with the Falcons, and sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports that he’ll interview with the Lions soon. That’s not all, as sources also told La Canfora that Washington is interested in having Smith run their football operations. We heard back in January that Washington almost hired Smith before electing not to hire a front office head for the time being, so this isn’t too surprising. VP of player personnel Kyle Smith is currently overseeing things for Washington, but sources told La Canfora that the team is “very likely to fill a traditional general manager spot” this offseason. Smith left Houston after the 2017 season when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, and is generally well regarded around the league.
- Speaking of guys looking to get back into the league after a hiatus, we might not have seen the last of Marvin Lewis. The former long-time Bengals coach is “under consideration for several head coaching opportunities in 2021,” sources told La Canfora. Lewis was never able to make a deep playoff run in Cincy, but he undeniably did an incredible job turning them from a perennial laughing stock and doormat to annual contender in the AFC North for a while. After spending an impressive 16 season roaming the Bengals’ sideline, he’s spent the past couple years on Herm Edwards’ staff at Arizona State. La Canfora writes that “numerous teams have indicated an interest in speaking to Lewis,” although he doesn’t specifically name any. Lewis reportedly received strong interest from both the Cowboys and Washington during last year’s cycle, and it sounds like this could be the year he makes it back in.
- Finally, a few notes via Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com. The Falcons managed to turn their season around a bit after firing Dan Quinn, although things have started to go off the rails again in recent weeks. The initial success led to some buzz that interim coach and former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris could be a candidate for the full-time job, although Pauline throws some cold water on that. Pauline says there’s a “very slight chance” they keep Morris, noting people who he has talked to won’t completely rule it out. That being said, he hears that Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy is still at the top of their list.
- Anthony Lynn and the Chargers have now won back to back games, but Pauline writes he’ll need a “miracle” to save his job. One source he talked to put the odds of Lynn returning at 20 percent, and he writes that’s a best-case scenario for the embattled Los Angeles coach. Lynn has made a number of high profile game management blunders in recent weeks, and Pauline writes the consensus of “well-connected” people is that he’ll be fired. With a talented roster and a stud young quarterback in Justin Herbert, the Chargers’ job should be an attractive one.
- While a lot of these decisions already appear to be more or less set in stone, Pauline says that Giants GM Dave Gettleman’s status is genuinely undecided and up in the air. He writes that it’ll depend on what happens the rest of the year (presumably whether the G-Men win the NFC East), and that there’s been no “definitive decision.” However, Pauline does say that as of right now he hears the Giants are “more comfortable” getting rid of Gettleman and bringing in someone new to work alongside first-year coach Joe Judge, who people inside the building are apparently “ecstatic” about. As one that could seemingly go either way, the situation in New York will be one of the most interesting to monitor the last couple weeks. What happens with Gettleman could also very well determine whether the team runs it back with Daniel Jones or looks for a new quarterback this offseason.