Dave Gettleman Relieved of GM Duties by Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2017

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The Carolina Panthers have relieved Dave Gettleman of his general manager duties, according to team owner Jerry Richardson.

"After much thought and a long evaluation of our football operations, I have decided to relieve Gettleman of his duties as general manager," Richardson said in a press release Monday. "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."

The Panthers reached the postseason in Gettleman's first three seasons with the team, including a berth in Super Bowl 50. He was responsible for drafting key contributors like Star Lotulelei, Kawann Short, Kelvin Benjamin, Kony Ealy and Trai Turner, among others, while signing superstars Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly to lucrative contract extensions.

Those quality moves made this firing all the more stunning, per Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com:

But trouble began brewing last offseason when star cornerback Josh Norman had his franchise tag rescinded and was allowed to walk in free agency, ultimately signing with Washington.

The Panthers, in turn, stumbled to a 6-10 record last season and finished 29th in the NFL in passing yards allowed.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that the Norman decision was a factor in Gettleman's firing:

Norman seemed to connect those dots as well:

Longtime Panthers wideout Steve Smith, who was released by the team in 2014 and has never been shy about putting Gettleman on blast, also commented on Gettleman's dismissal:

Former Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams opened the door to a return to Carolina after Gettleman's departure, calling him a "snake":

Despite those controversial decisions, however, Monday's news was surprising, as Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer shared:

The front office has a completely different look than it did a year ago, per Rapoport:

With training camp just over a week away, the Panthers head into the 2017 season with plenty of uncertainty in the front office.