CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)The Carolina Panthers fired general manager Marty Hurney on Monday after the team lost eight of its last nine games and failed to make the playoffs for a third straight season.
Hurney’s contract was set to expire after the season.
”I notified Marty that we would not be extending his contract beyond the 2020 season,” Panthers owner David Tepper said. ”This was a difficult decision. Marty has been a valuable member of our franchise and there is no way to convey my level of respect for him. We sincerely appreciate his hard work over 19 seasons and wish him well moving forward.”
The team will begin its process of finding a replacement GM immediately.
That had been Hurney’s second stint with the Panthers. He served as the general manager from 2002-12 and again from 2017-20.
The Panthers made four playoff appearances under Hurney, won two division titles and played in one NFC Championship, resulting in a trip to Super Bowl in 2003. The Panthers made a second trip to the Super Bowl in 2005 under Dave Gettleman.
Hurney was responsible for drafting players like quarterback Cam Newton in 2011 and linebacker Luke Kuechly in 2012. The two players each won NFL Rookie of the Year, making Carolina just the fourth team to have consecutive offensive or defensive rookies of the year since The Associated Press started presenting the awards in 1967.
”I want to thank Dave and Nicole for the opportunity to be a part of this organization over the last three seasons,” Hurney said in a statement. ”I have a great relationship with Matt and everybody in the building. I believe this team is well-positioned for the future and wish Matt, the players and the entire organization all the best.”
Hurney first joined the Panthers in 1998, serving as director of football administration and then director of football operations from 1999-2001 before raising to become GM in 2002.
According to the team’s website, Tepper said after recent conversations with Hurney about the structure of the team’s football operations, it became clear they had different ideas. Tepper said he wants 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.”
Panthers first-year coach Matt Rhule will have a role in finding a new general manager.
”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?”
The Panthers are 4-10 this season after starting 3-2.
”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.”