Aug 26, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera reacts during the second quarter against the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

Carolina Panthers GM Wanted: But Whom?

Marty Hurney’s decade-plus-long tenure in Charlotte with the Carolina Panthers is over. Ron Rivera, Rob Chudzinski and the other coaches are now on notice: Win. Now. Or else.

That’s a discussion for another time. Right now, there’s a General Manager’s post to fill – and with less than a week before the trade deadline, it would seem difficult for the Panthers to do any trading before then.

We’ve got $80 million in long-term contracts in an unproductive backfield. The players loved Hurney because he paid up the big bucks for guys that have played well in the past. Ask Ryan Kalil, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Charles Johnson, and even Chris Godfrey about that one.

It would seem the team needs a “salary cap guru” of sorts as one part of the equation. With that backfield, the Panthers should be #1 in rushing in the NFL. They’re in the middle of the pack, thanks mainly to Cam Newton. He’s the team’s leading rusher.

That alone should tell you something about the team’s finances. The fact that Charles Johnson and Chris Godfrey have big long-term contracts and zero Pro Bowls between them also should.

There are rumblings all over the place about who the replacement may be. Mike Holmgren said just today that he’s open to returning as a GM, but he might be overrated. Sure, he has a Super Bowl ring as a coach in his time with Green Bay, but he had a LOT of good teams that often underachieved.

Omar Khan of the Pittsburgh Steelers is an interesting name being bandied about. Just a few months ago, Khan was promoted to “Director of Football and Business Administration” and has been talked about in the past about a GM job, but nothing ever came of it. It would seem SOMEONE will take the leap, and the Steelers are known for drafting well over the years. Since Khan has been their chief contract negotiator for over a decade, the “Salary Cap Guru” would seem to fit him well and also into the Panthers’ organizational needs, apparently.

Although he’s not new to football and he has been talked about but never given the chance yet, it could be an ideal fit for the pair. The Panthers clearly need some reason and discipline with their contracts. I recall being surprised when BOTH DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart got franchise RB-type contracts while obviously splitting carries.

I was flabbergasted when the team went out and spent even more cap money on Mike Tolbert, of the vanishing fullback species, to add to the backfield. That’s THREE different runners with big money deals. If you look at the salary cap numbers, you might think the Panthers run the old “Wishbone” offense, no?

No, they don’t.

Bill Cowher’s name has also been thrown around on the “wish list,” and although he shied away from Miami when he could have been their Head Coach for 2012, he kept his name out of the hat. One other thing – he lives in North Carolina.

Hmm.

You see, the thing about hiring a new GM is that the GM generally wants to bring his “own people” in. And win or lose, that’s bad news for Rivera. Rivera has yet to prove he’s worthy of being a Head Coach, but one thing IS certain: he’s no dummy. He gets it.

The chair he’s sitting in is warming up very, very fast as well.

From my chair here – and granted, I’m an armchair guy just like most of you are – I could easily see Khan being brought in to better manage the salary cap. It’s been in a shambles for years and it seems like every time Hurney got a little wiggle room, he’d give an oversized contract out.

Chris Godfrey….guaranteed almost $13 million? Chris Godfrey???

Follow me now…if Khan is brought in, he’s the carrot. The Panthers are the stick. Cowher would be the prize, and when you look at the circumstances, that might just be enough to get Cowher off the bench and back into the game.

Unless Rivera somehow manages at _least_ and 8-8 season, he may indeed get the quick hook. I’ve seen the movie before, many times. It rarely has a happy ending for the embattled coach.

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