Panthers, Adrian Wilson Part Ways

Just last year, Adrian Wilson was on the short list of candidates to take over as the Cardinals’ permanent general manager. While he did not get the gig, he landed on his feet as the Panthers’ vice president of player personnel. After one year in that position, Wilson is again in search of a new employer.

Carolina never made a public announcement on the matter, but as a team spokesperson told Pro Football Talk this morning, “Adrian Wilson will not continue in his position as Vice President of Player Personnel for the Carolina Panthers. Consistent with our organizational policy on employee matters, we will have no further comment” (via PFT’s Mike Florio).

Of course, 2023 was hardly a banner year for the Panthers. The club’s 2-15 record was disappointing in and of itself, and the pronounced struggles of rookie quarterback Bryce Young made matters worse. Adding insult to injury was the fact that Carolina’s league-worst W-L mark would have entitled the team to the top selection in this year’s draft, but the Panthers had already traded that pick to the Bears as part of the package to acquire the No. 1 overall choice in the 2023 draft, which they used to select Young.

Given the Panthers’ forgettable season and the fact that GM Scott Fitterer was fired in January, it is not surprising that Wilson, one of Fitterer’s top lieutenants, is no longer with the team either. However, since owner David Tepper opted to replace Fitterer internally by promoting assistant GM Dan Morgan to the top job, it was reasonable to think that Wilson would remain on the staff and assist Morgan in trying to right the ship.

It is unclear whether Wilson moved on voluntarily or was dismissed. In either case, and fairly or not, Wilson’s departure will likely be seen as another failure of the Tepper regime. After all, if Wilson left on his own, it could reinforce the notion that Tepper is a difficult boss who fosters an untenable working environment; if Wilson was fired, it will add to Tepper’s reputation as an impatient and impulsive owner. As Florio wrote, “from David Tepper’s football team to his soccer team, the hinge on the swinging door never has much of a chance to get rusty.”

Wilson, a longtime Cardinals safety and five-time Pro Bowler, started working as a regional scout for Arizona in 2015. He ascended the executive ladder fairly quickly, and he and Quentin Harris ended the 2022 season sharing the Cardinals’ GM duties after Steve Keim took an indefinite leave of absence. Wilson had interviewed for the Giants’ GM post the previous offseason and was reportedly in line to take over as Jaguars GM the same year if Jacksonville had hired Byron Leftwich as their head coach.

Now 44, Wilson will surely land another high-ranking position in the near future, though his stint in Carolina stalled his upward trajectory.

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