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Marty Hurney: Parting ways with Cam Newton was "extremely difficult" 

Marty Hurney and Cam Newton

Nearly nine years after Marty Hurney used the Panthers' top pick of the 2011 NFL Draft on Cam Newton, the general manager on Monday faced a number of questions about why Carolina moved on from the quarterback last month.

On a conference call with local media, Hurney wouldn't get into specifics.

"In fairness, I'm not getting into the details of our decision-making process," he said.

Instead, Hurney stressed the call was anything but easy.

"You have to make difficult decisions every year, and this was probably one of the most difficult. I mean, I drafted Cam," Hurney said. "We all know everything he's brought to the organization, both on and off the field. So it was extremely difficult."

Many have wondered why the Panthers waited until mid-March to tell Newton they had decided to part ways. That's because, according to Hurney, that's when the decision was ultimately made.

"We put a lot of time, thought (and) communication into every decision we make, and as soon as we make those decisions, we act on them," he said. "So as soon as we did, I called Cam's representatives and told them that we were going to start calling teams about seeing if there was trade interest in Cam. I think it came out publicly the next day.

"When we got to a point where we thought that it didn't seem like we were going to make a trade in the near future, we thought it was in the best interest for everybody to release him."

A day after Newton's release, the Panthers officially signed Teddy Bridgewater, who's expected to slide into the starting role.

"He's a very talented quarterback. I've always liked him," Hurney said of Bridgewater. "He's got great feet in the pocket. I think he's got good vision, a quick release. He's got good accuracy.

"I think everybody you talk to, they talked about his leadership skills, and he's got familiarity with (offensive coordinator) Joe Brady's system since Joe was down there in New Orleans with him. He's certainly a guy who's overcome adversity and has, really if you look at it, he's won everywhere he's been, so we thought he'd be a good fit for us."

The other major roster move Hurney discussed during the 20-minute conference call was the swap of Pro Bowl offensive linemen. Trading right tackle Trai Turner to the Chargers was a steep price to pay, but Russell Okung shores up a position that hasn't been stable since 2015.

"We thought that being able to get a left tackle with the ability that Russell Okung has — it was very hard to trade Trai — but we just thought that was a decision that we wanted to do in the big picture plan of our offensive line," Hurney said.

That big picture includes improving depth on the O-line, and the addition of a 10-year veteran in Okung affords last year's second-round pick, Greg Little, more space to learn and grow.

"We think Greg is very talented and has a chance to be a very good player and maybe have some position flexibility," Hurney said. "We have all the confidence in the world in Greg. It just gives him time to come in and get with a guy who's played in this league at a high level for a long time."