One Man Who Doesn't Need an 'Audition' to Remain in Carolina

We’re still waiting. Since Thursday of last week, we’ve all been awaiting the word on the future of Carolina Panthers’ general manager, Marty Hurney.

Hurney, who’s been away on vacation — like the rest of the coaching staff, team, and probably front office — since his contract expired, won’t be back until later this week or next. So while we wait, let’s take a look at a few key elements that should hold him in high favor of receiving an extension.

First, there ‘s the obvious. “By default.” The NFL is in mid-season, so to speak. To move on without Hurney at this point would make very little sense, as he’s done everything asked of him by  team owner Jerry Richardson during the offseason and in the Draft.

Despite the popular opinion, Hurney has been solid when drafting players. Have there been duds? Sure. Name a team and a general manager which haven’t suffered through some bad draft picks.

Defensive end Everette Brown is beginning his second year in the NFL; his first as a full-time starter at the position. The time is hardly here to call for Hurney’s job, even pending the outcome of Brown’s first season as the full-time starter.

Thinking back to the 2008 NFL Draft, Hurney made two solid moves in the first-round of the draft.

Why was running back Jonathan Stewart still around when Carolina made it’s first pick of the first-round? He had a foot problem, and the teams that picked ahead of Carolina, were very concerned about that. Hurney and John Fox weren’t as concerned about the injury, nor was the Panthers’ scouting department. The added fact that the Charlotte area has some of the best orthopedic specialists, and it’s no wonder Hurney was so confident in this “sports car” with a ding in the fender. Also see newly-drafted defensive end, Greg Hardy (in the comments section).

Back to the ’08 Draft. After selecting Stewart, what did Hurney do? Wheeled and dealed with the Philadelphia Eagles. He traded away 2009’s first-round pick to move back into the 2008 first-round at 17th overall, to select right tackle Jeff Otah. Now some were scratching their heads at this move.

I’ll admit I was a little perplexed, but I was laughing that Hurney stole a potentially sweet pick from the Eagles.

Then without a first-rounder in 2009, Hurney took a gamble and worked his same magic again, trading away 2010’s first-rounder to the San Francisco 49ers, to move up in the second-round. The pick as you know, was for Everette Brown. Not quite the player Julius Peppers was in the freakishly athletically gifted sense, but he showed a huge upside at being an every down player and had a nose to create some havoc and pressure the quarterback.

At that point, Hurney was not sure whether Peppers would sign his franchise tender or not. Hardly as move of desperation, as much as one of necessity and having a sort of “Plan B” waiting. When Peppers eventually signed his contract, it was too late to seriously consider trading him, and at the time it was more enticing to keep him around, as the organization likes to keep it’s franchise players.

Things didn’t work out with Pep in contract talks, and both parties went their separate ways.

If Hurney’s last decade of drafting front-seven players — Kris Jenkins, Julius Peppers, Will Witherspoon, Dan Morgan, and Jon Beason — is any indicator, then I feel confident that  Brown was a smart move.

This year’s draft was more about addressing some areas of need and adding a lot of depth to others. It was a solid draft overall, receiving an average grade of B. Of course, there’s no way of truly telling how the new guys will perform right away, or even in their first year. But two and three years down the road, we’ll have a much better idea.

Under Hurney, the Panthers have been pretty diligent during free agency. To date, Hurney has not been a knee-jerk reactionary and brought in a player who was either a distraction or not of necessity.

Hurney’s also been very productive in maintaining salary cap space for the Panthers, keeping the team out of the red.

You might say Bill Polian was the best GM this organization has had. But if I remember correctly, he brought in some players with character issues. Not that Hurney is the poster-boy of perfection, but you generally don’t read much negative publicity about the Panthers, aside from a contract squabble here and there or someone breaking a limb outside of team activities. Solid research and smart decisions are executed by the Panthers’ scouting department, and Marty Hurney.

John Fox is another good judge of character and talent, but we’ll save that story for another time. There are still three weeks until training camp begins.

So in the next week or two, look for Hurney to receive a well-deserved, hard-earned contract extension. After all, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, the offensive line, Jeff King, Dante Rosario, Gary Barnidge — all were drafted by Hurney. 17-of-22 starters were selected via the NFL Draft. How many teams can boast that?

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Tags: 2008 NFL Draft @THECatCrave Bill Polian Carolina Panthers Dan Morgan Everette Brown Facebook FanSided Greg Hardy Jeff Otah Jerry Richardson John Fox Jon Beason Jonathan Stewart Julius Peppers Kris Jenkins Marty Hurney NFL Philadelphia Eagles San Francisco 49ers Twitter Will Witherspoon

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