The time has finally come (again). Panthers fans around the globe; Twitter GMs, Teddy Bridgewater lovers, Ford F150 fans, and Cam stans alike can all come together (again). For the Carolina Panthers and Marty Hurney have agreed to part ways (again). The man who has held this team down in mediocrity for just about as long as I have been alive is finally gone (again).
We shall not bag on Hurney, enough of that has been done. We will only move forward to new beginnings. Starting with this article. It’s time to get familiar with some names who David Tepper should be looking at, and no, Louis Riddick will not be on this list. I do not understand the hype, sure he’s on ESPN, helped build Philadelphia’s “dream team” (for what that worth), dashing fellow, but this is the same guy who said Kyle Allen was the future here, thought Eli Apple was a better prospect than Jalen Ramsey, and also thought Solomon Thomas should have been picked over Myles Garrett who he thought should have gone 3rd. Everyone has misses but those are obvious gimmes, and he’s loud about it. I’m OK!
Moving on, when I’m thinking of who our next GM should be, I want someone from a winning organization, or at least an organization that has been trending in the right direction. Along with Tepper we want someone who will be analytically focused but there’s not really any way for me to know if they are or not, if any of these names hate analytics then I will scratch them off. Also, Tepper just wants the best of the best. So with that said let’s look at some names (in no particular order).
* denotes a minority candidate. New NFL rule rewards 3rd round comp picks.
Lake Dawson* – Assistant Director of College Scouting – Buffalo Bills
Mr. Dawson may be a name that rings a bell to Panthers fans as we interviewed him back in 2018 after Hurney’s return as interim GM. Obviously, we stuck with Hurney. Other experience for Dawson includes VP of Football Ops for the Tennessee Titans from 2011-2015, not the best years in Tennessee but the work he’s done in Buffalo since then has been excellent and with over a decade of experience and recent success, Dawson is sure to be one of the hotter names this year.
Terry Fontenot* – VP/Assistant General Manager-Pro Personnel – New Orleans Saints
Could we see Tepper dip into the Saints organization yet again? Last year we saw former Saints coach Joe Brady, brought in to be Carolina’s offense coordinator, and Teddy Bridgewater was signed to be the teams placeholder at QB for the season. Fontenot has been with the Saints for 16 years now, and yes as Panthers fans, we hate him for it. BUT, there is no denying the part he has played in helping New Orleans build a successful franchise. A pro scout for seven years, before being promoted to his current position Fontenot has played a crucial role in the Saints success, he even helps the Saints advance scout their opponents. I would not be surprised if he were on the Panthers shortlist.
Brandon Hunt – Pro Scouting Director – Pittsburgh Steelers
Hunt will be another top candidate during this years GM carousel. He’s been with the Steelers for a decade now and has been instrumental in rebuilding the defense into the respectable unit that is today. What I love the most is that Hunt was the driving force for the Steelers to go out and trade for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is already a 1st team All-Pro in his young career. Someone who is not scared to make savvy trades is a big bonus for me. Tepper, being from the Steelers organization, may be one of the first to look Hunt’s way.
Mike Borgonzi – Director of Football Operations – Kansas City Chiefs
Touted as Kansas City’s secret weapon, Borgonzi has supposedly been a key player in building the Chiefs into the dominate force that they are today. At his best he is a supreme talent evaluator and plays a big part in the draft. Patrick Mahomes and that armada of weapons? That’s him. If Tepper wants the best of the best then there’s no better place to look than the Chiefs organization. He is the right hand man to GM Brett Veach and nothing gets done without Borgonzi knowing about it. If you’re in rebuild mode like the Panthers are, you would want a guy like Borgonzi leading the charge.
Luke Kuechly – Pro Scout – Carolina Panthers
Too soon? 100%. Would I love it? Absolutely. In my short, 25 years of life. Kuechly is the smartest defensive player I have ever seen play the game. Maybe the smartest overall. However we have no idea what a Kuechly draft pick (or really any Kuechly move) looks like as he was only signed to the scouting department back in June, but I would bet on him knowing what a good football player looks like. Tepper already has a cap expert in place to help with that end of things since Kuechly has no experience there. If you think age is a problem. Browns GM Andrew Berry is the youngest GM in the league at 32 (now 33). He was actually being looked at by Carolina just last year but Hurney was in place with that weird minimized role yet still the GM mumbo jumbo. Kuechly isn’t that much younger Berry, he’ll be 30 in April, the idea isn’t THAT crazy. You get someone who is close to the team and already understands the direction, loved by the fans, and just flat out knows ball. I would bet that Kuechly will be the GM of a team within in 5 years, and it might as well be this team.