CHARLOTTE – As they prepare to move into an offseason of significant change, the Panthers will be making another one atop their personnel department.
The team on Monday announced it is parting ways with general manager Marty Hurney, whose contract initially ran through June 2021.
A search for his replacement will begin immediately.
Panthers owner David Tepper said that after recent conversations with Hurney about the structure of the team's football operations, it became clear they had some different ideas. Tepper was careful to say he respected Hurney's traditional approach but hopes to blend more of a data-driven process into the football operation.
"I think sometimes you just need a restart, a refresh," Tepper said. "We did it last year on the coaching side. Maybe you could say it should have been done before on the GM side. Maybe it should have been. I'm sure people may say that, or otherwise, on both sides.
"I think it's just time, on both sides, to do that. It just seems like the right time to move forward."
Tepper has some names in mind that he wants to interview for the Panthers' GM job, but obviously, he isn't sharing them yet. He plans to begin the process of identifying and interviewing candidates, along with the help of chief communications officer Steven Drummond, who participated in the interview process with Tepper and Hurney when head coach Matt Rhule was hired last offseason.
Tepper said Rhule would also be a participant in the GM search.
"You look at successful organizations, and there's a certain alignment between the head coach and the GM," Tepper said. "To think that you can do that without some sort of alignment is nuts. So to not have a head coach with some input into that is stupid. I don't want to be stupid, OK?"
He also wants to start winning.
When Rhule was hired a year ago, Tepper was upfront that it was going to be a long process and urged patience. But asked about the progress made during a 4-10 season so far, Tepper saw the positives in a season played mostly without star running back Christian McCaffrey.
"This team could easily have another four wins," Tepper said. "The eight games that we had the ball last to win or tie — seven to win, one to tie — if you win four of those games, you're in a totally different position right now with this young team. So looking at next year, I'm very hopeful where we will be and what we will do."
Hurney joined the Panthers in 1998 as director of football administration and became GM in 2002. He was removed during the 2012 season, but returned to the role in an interim basis in 2017 before reclaiming the post full-time after that season.
Hurney put together the bulk of the teams that advanced to Super Bowls XXXVIII and 50, with players he acquired including Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Ryan Kalil, and Greg Olsen leading the way to a 15-1 record in 2015. He also drafted the foundation of talent they'll build on from here, including DJ Moore, Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Jeremy Chinn, and led the searches for and hired coaches John Fox, Ron Rivera, and Rhule.