Panthers Fire GM Scott Fitterer

In a move which comes as little surprise, the Panthers have moved on from general manager Scott Fitterer. His three-year run in Charlotte is now over, and the team’s offseason will include a search for replacements both on the sidelines and in the front office.

“As we move forward with the new direction for our franchise, I have made the decision that Scott Fitterer will no longer serve as our general manager,” a statement from owner David Tepper reads. “I appreciate Scott’s efforts and wish the best for him and his family.” 

A report from last month pointed to Fitterer being shown the door to coincide with yet another search for a new head coach. The longtime Seahawks exec had received a vote of confidence in the wake of Matt Rhule being let go, but a repeat on that front will not take place. The Panthers now join the Chargers and Raiders as teams with GM openings.

After a 5-12 campaign in his 2021 Carolina debut, Fitterer has attempted to find a long-term answer for the franchise at the quarterback position. That included the trade acquisition of Baker Mayfield last summer. The former No. 1 pick struggled mightily in Charlotte, however, and he was gone by the time the season came to an end. Running back Christian McCaffrey had been dealt away by the end of the 7-10 campaign, leaving the Panthers in need of an organizational reset.

That effort was built in large part on the blockbuster move to acquire the top pick in the 2023 draft from the Bears. The Panthers sent Chicago a package including two first-round selections, two second-rounders and wideout D.J. Moore to move to the top of the draft board. That maneuver resulted in Bryce Young being selected, something which came about after an internal decision-making process which has been the subject of considerable speculation and scrutiny.

As ex-head coach Frank Reich has made clear, Tepper played a central role in the decision to select Young over other signal-callers available (namely C.J. Stroud). Young’s struggles led to a very poor offensive showing, something which informed Reich’s dismissal after only 11 games at the helm. Regardless of how much weight his voice carried in the Young selectin, Fitterer has drawn criticism for authorizing the trade and for failing to insulate Young with an adequate offensive line in his rookie year.

Overall, the Panthers posted a 14-37 record during Fitterer’s run. That represents the league’s worst mark over that span, and with this year’s top pick belonging to the Bears, the path to contending status will be a difficult one for his replacement to navigate. Among the top priorities for the new GM will be working out the future for Pro Bowl edge rusher Brian Burns. The former first-rounder is due to reach free agency this offseason, and either a franchise tag or a long-term deal will need to be in place to keep him in Charlotte for 2024 and beyond. Talks on an extension have not produced much traction to date, but a new face at the negotiating table could bring about progress.

While interim head coach Chris Tabor will be replaced over the coming weeks, likely by an outside candidate, the same may not be true for Fitterer’s successor. Assistant GM Dan Morgan is liked within the organization, and he has a chance to be promoted to the full-time role; ESPN’s David Newton reports Morgan will oversee personnel moves for now. Given Tepper’s less-than-stellar reputation (particularly with respect to meddling), it will be interesting to see how much of a market this vacancy generates.

2024 marks the first time in Tepper’s tenure that the Panthers have a simultaneous opening at the head coach and general manager positions. Needless to say, the coming weeks will therefore have a profound impact on the short- and long-term direction of the franchise as a rebound from this year’s 2-15 slate is sought out.

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