CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dave Gettleman had a history of being stubborn when it came to extending the contracts of older veterans during his four seasons as general manager of the Carolina Panthers.
He released the Panthers’ all-time leading receiver, Steve Smith, after the 2013 season. Gettleman also released the team’s all-time leading rusher, DeAngelo Williams, after the 2014 season.
Both were in their 30s. Both were bitter and said harsh things about the man who let them go and the way it was handled.
Gettleman also parted with Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman after the Panthers’ 2015 Super Bowl season. That decision in large part led to a 6-10 record in 2016 and drew more criticism for Gettleman.
So the timing of owner Jerry Richardson’s dismissal of Gettleman on Monday is interesting — eight days before players report to training camp, with outside linebacker Thomas Davis and tight end Greg Olsen seeking extensions.
Davis is 34 but has made the Pro Bowl the past two seasons. Olsen is 32 and has made the Pro Bowl the past three seasons.
Extending their deals should be a no-brainer. It should be done before camp.
That there had been little movement, particularly on Olsen, who has two seasons left on his last extension, makes one wonder if there is a connection with Gettleman’s untimely dismissal.
Richardson didn’t interfere with Gettleman’s past decisions. Perhaps he felt it was time.
Perhaps they were at an impasse over Gettleman’s history of being stubborn.
That one of the players wanting an extension is Davis makes this all the more interesting. There is no player who defines what Richardson wants the organization to represent more than Davis.
The only other player with similar status in team history is linebacker Sam Mills, who died of cancer in 2005.