The Carolina Panthers have fired general manager Marty Hurney, the team announced on Monday.
The Panthers are last in the NFC South with a 4-10 record after their Week 15 defeat to the Green Bay Packers.
Carolina had moved to 3-2 with a run of three straight wins through late September and early October, but a subsequent dip in form ended any playoff hopes as the team struggled without star running back Christian McCaffrey.
Hurney, appointed for a second time as GM in 2017 – initially on an interim basis, has paid the price with his job.
A Panthers statement said during conversations with owner David Tepper, “it became clear they had some different ideas”.
Hurney departs six months early, with his contract due to run through June 2021, as the team look to “blend more of a data-driven process into the football operation”.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) December 21, 2020
Carolina made the playoffs in 2017, losing to the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card Round, but results have tailed off since.
Coach Ron Rivera was fired late in 2019 and Baylor’s Matt Rhule was appointed as his long-term successor.
Tepper admitted on Monday that he might also have moved sooner on Hurney’s departure.
“I think sometimes you just need a restart, a refresh,” the owner said. “We did it last year on the coaching side.
“Maybe you could say it should have been done before on the GM side. Maybe it should have been. I’m sure people may say that, or otherwise, on both sides.
“I think it’s just time, on both sides, to do that. It just seems like the right time to move forward.”
Rhule will have a say in the next hire, too.
“You look at successful organisations, and there’s a certain alignment between the head coach and the GM,” Tepper said.
“To think that you can do that without some sort of alignment is nuts.
“So to not have a head coach with some input into that is stupid. I don’t want to be stupid, okay?”