A quiet Monday in the NFL has been rocked by a surprise firing in Carolina.
Richardson explained in a statement that “much thought and a long evaluation of our football operations” led to his decision, adding: “I want to thank Dave for the role he played in our success over the past four seasons. While the timing of this decision is not ideal, a change is needed.”
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Gettleman was in a “shaky” place with ownership, pointing to “rumblings that all was not well” between Gettleman and Richardson after the general manager allowed Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman to walk last offseason.
It didn’t take long for Norman, along with other players, to weigh in on Twitter:
â *Joshua R. Norman (@J_No24)
July 17, 2017
Make no mistake: This is a stunning turn of events, especially the timing. The Panthers are days away from launching training camp and now veer into the guts of the season without a clear-cut general manager. Before dumping Gettleman, the team also saw president Danny Morrison resign in February before assistant general manager Brandon Beane bolted for a job with the Bills.
The Panthers enjoyed remarkable success during Gettleman’s run with the club, which began in 2013. Despite finishing 6-10 last season, Carolina was a playoff entry in each of his first three campaigns, a streak that peaked with an appearance in Super Bowl 50. The 66-year-old Gettleman capably steered the franchise out of salary-cap hell upon his arrival and worked well with coach Ron Rivera, lacing the roster with affordable, productive free agents and plug-and-play college prospects.
Richardson’s eleventh-hour decision points to a level of unrest behind closed doors that few would have fretted over a day ago. One of the most consistent franchises in the NFC is suddenly packed with questions heading into the regular season.