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Thomas Davis contract could have been central to Gettleman’s firing

Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis has literally given his body to the Carolina Panthers, playing the Super Bowl with a badly broken arm, and coming back from three torn ACLs. So when he asked for a contract extension prior to the last year of his deal, it seems like an almost automatic call for the owner who had practically made Davis a part of his family.

But Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman always vowed that if he ever got a top job after years of waiting, he’d do it the way he always wanted to, and if that meant making cold, calculating business decisions about popular older players, then so be it.

The difference between those two positions might be a large part — if not the central part — of Gettleman’s sudden unemployment.

The 34-year-old linebacker has been clear about his desire to finish his career with the Panthers, and that he thought he had more than one year left in that career. He’s made his only two Pro Bowls the last two seasons, and considering the physical setbacks he’s overcome, that means a bit more.

But if you want to see how deeply the divide between Gettleman’s pragmatism and Davis’s emotional draw was felt, you only need a peek at a post that didn’t last long on social media.

A month ago, Davis’s wife Kelly posted on Twitter a message which read: “Loyalty means NOTHING nowadays but I love a person who knows their worth! #BigOlFacts #KnowYourWorth #NotShockedAtAll #ItsRumbleTime.”

It was worth a screenshot at the moment, if not an immediate news story, as the negotiations were at an early stage and she deleted it within minutes.

But looking back in the context of today’s news, and it was absolutely an omen for the future of Gettleman.

Richardson has always played favorites. He signed off on a number of contract extensions for players with dubious medical situations (Jake Delhomme, Dan Morgan) because he liked the players involved. He was willing to let Gettleman make some hard calls on others (Jordan Gross, Steve Smith), because he felt compelled to in the wake of overspending to keep a core together previously.

If the Davis situation turns out to be the linchpin in this move, then Gettleman deserves credit for sticking to his beliefs, and running a team in a practical way, without the intrusion of feelings. Giving money to aging players who are blocking former first-round picks (Shaq Thompson) is not the way to run a business.

But Richardson runs this particular business, so he gets to decide.

The Panthers owner is about to turn 81 years old tomorrow, and he’s more than eight years removed from the heart transplant that saved his life. His legacy matters very deeply to him, now more than ever.

Today’s move seems to make clear that when Richardson was deciding what he valued more, he went with that heart instead of his head, and Gettleman’s out of a job because of it.

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36 Responses to “Thomas Davis contract could have been central to Gettleman’s firing”
  1. tedmurph says: Jul 17, 2017 2:22 PM

    Don’t forget the JNorman thing too. A position that really hurt them. Also, they traded a cheap yr of KEaly in return for moving up 8 spots in the draft.

  2. chc4 says: Jul 17, 2017 2:25 PM

    I suspect Gettleman is dead-on in his assessment of Thomas Davis. Teams that pay aging vets for past accomplishments into their mid-late 30’s almost always regret it. Granted Davis is still very good but he is on the edge of a steep cliff. At 34 giving him a lucrative extension simply isn’t good business. But if all Richardson wants is to pay his favorites regardless of whether it’s smart then so be it. He has that right as an owner. As a Panthers fan I’d be concerned. Gettleman built a pretty solid roster despite last year’s outcome.

  3. denrec says: Jul 17, 2017 2:29 PM

    Jerry is getting senile. Gettleman will have a job before the week is over. Yuge mistake Jerry.

  4. denrec says: Jul 17, 2017 2:30 PM

    Lost a ton of respect for Jerry Richardson today. wth

  5. tinkletinkleonyourstar says: Jul 17, 2017 2:30 PM

    You are making a whole lot of assumptions

  6. fiddlinred says: Jul 17, 2017 2:31 PM

    Ill never forget when Davis was brought out to announce the panthers and he said Shaq Thompson, then his face soured when he realized he had just called the name of his relplacement. CLASSY

  7. evermoresg says: Jul 17, 2017 2:33 PM

    Richardson is one of the worst owners in sports. He’s an old fart that wants it to be 1950 all over again, and is a continuing hinderance to the growth and continued relevancy of the sport. Every time the league seeks new outlets to grow “the brand” he sticks his nose in, is the old man who doesn’t get it, and fights it to the bone. The same man also doesn’t think the players are really worth a damn, and is the preeminent voice in reducing the players pay and right each time labor negotiations come up. He is indeed the Dan Gilbert of the NFL, and this move is par for the course for him.

    Remember, this same man fired his own sons.

  8. elyasm says: Jul 17, 2017 2:34 PM

    Some teams prioritize sentimentality over winning. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, but I am glad that I am not a fan of one of those teams.

  9. tiger767 says: Jul 17, 2017 2:35 PM

    Way to go Richardson! a Employer that has a heart! no pun intended

  10. nflcommissioner says: Jul 17, 2017 2:38 PM

    Wow big Panthers fan and TD fan but Gettleman getting canned was not the best outcome for the team and fans. It’s a lot easier to find a linebacker that’s not in his 30’s who can perform than to find a good manager that can set the team up for years of success(See Patriots). I hope TD has his best season yet or we just screwed the pooch.

  11. Della Street says: Jul 17, 2017 2:43 PM

    tiger767 says:
    Jul 17, 2017 2:35 PM
    Way to go Richardson! a Employer that has a heart! no pun intended

    Fans don’t want an employer with a heart – they want a WINNER.

  12. pancaketaco says: Jul 17, 2017 2:47 PM

    I just don’t see the Patriots handing out extensions to players who are the owners “favorite”.

    Guess that’s why they win.

  13. jgedgar70 says: Jul 17, 2017 2:48 PM

    tinkletinkleonyourstar says:
    Jul 17, 2017 2:30 PM

    You are making a whole lot of assumptions
    _____
    Agreed. One assumption being made here is that TD demanded some ginormous contract. I seriously doubt that. I think what he wants is years as opposed to dollars, so he can retire here instead of what happened to Smith and DeAngelo. Certainly he wants fair market value, but he hasn’t said anything about being the highest-paid anything like Olsen has.

    Another assumption is that it is guaranteed that 2017 will be the last season that TD is any good. Gantt himself pointed out that these last 2 years TD made the Pro Bowl, so his play is NOT deteriorating.

    So I do not agree it is all about sentimentality with Richardson. I think he sees that TD is still playing at a high level, that he and Olsen have made more Pro Bowls in their 30s than they did in their 20s, and that DG was obsessed with their ages and was making business decisions based on the ages only, and no other factor. That is poor decision-making when you have players in their 30s playing the best ball of their careers.

  14. buckstalion12965 says: Jul 17, 2017 2:55 PM

    The Redskins need a real GM.

  15. finnymcphin says: Jul 17, 2017 2:58 PM

    “Today’s move seems to make clear that when Richardson was deciding what he valued more, he went with that heart instead of his head, and Gettleman’s out of a job because of it.”

    You should give Richardson more credit. The argument could easily be made that Richardson went with both his heart and his head. Players and loyalty matter a lot with fans and absent championships they make up the biggest part of legacy, as in what they believe their team stands for. Gettleman hadn’t helped much on that account. Something not lost on Richardson or potential FA’s for that matter.

  16. akira1971 says: Jul 17, 2017 3:04 PM

    tedmurph says:

    Don’t forget the JNorman thing too. A position that really hurt them.
    —————

    Wrong. The two rookies, Bradberry and Worley had early season growing pains, but have developed very, very well and the CB positions are set for the Panthers on cheap rookie deals instead of an albatross $20m/yr Norman deal.

  17. akira1971 says: Jul 17, 2017 3:11 PM

    finnymcphin says:

    Players and loyalty matter a lot with fans and absent championships they make up the biggest part of legacy, as in what they believe their team stands for. Gettleman hadn’t helped much on that account.
    —————–

    Fans care about winning a lot more. They don’t need to watch old veterans struggle.

    And you also need to remember – these stars only got to show their stuff because they replaced another veteran way back when. Same here – younger guys need the spots to show they belong, just like CB Bradberry and Worley did in 2016.

    Sentimentality don’t win games.

  18. cb28031 says: Jul 17, 2017 3:12 PM

    Wrong…it was someone else’s heart…..he had a transplant several years ago. Then he turned and fired his son’s…..and was not the same person…

  19. ncarolinabluze says: Jul 17, 2017 3:23 PM

    It’s difficult to understand the people who took shots at Jerry Richardson for putting ownership first and calling out players while being a bully during the collective bargaining process, yet now hate him for protecting his players. You can’t hate both sides.
    Keep in mind Thomas Davis has less football mileage on him than other LBs his age, due to playing safety in college and injury years off, as well as being a face of the franchise and an absolute BEAST the last 2 years. Add the antagonism toward Greg Olsen (top-2 TE in the league the last 4 years), the Steve Smith debacle (SS89 showed what he had left in Baltimore), the Josh Norman meltdown ( Panthers groomed him for 6 years

  20. ncarolinabluze says: Jul 17, 2017 3:28 PM

    4 years and let him walk after his lockdown year. Then there are the numerous questionable draft picks, as Gettleman really only hit on the big first rounders and finding Trai Turner in the 3rd. Meanwhile letting your franchise QB get mauled not only last year but really the past 4 years behind a makeshift line. Yeah, they won games due to talented players, but you can’t say Gettleman was a savior.

  21. somewheredownthecrazyriver says: Jul 17, 2017 3:35 PM

    TD is coming off back to back Pro Bowls, is a vocal team leader, and supports our city…and Gettleman slow plays the extension? Same with Olsens contract. Not wise.

  22. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Jul 17, 2017 3:35 PM

    I think Gettleman will probably put the fact that he got fired for refusing to give a 34-year-old linebacker a contract extension at the very top of his resume. It would probably help him – after all the only owner in the entire NFL who would disagree with him is the one who just fired him

  23. dregonspengler says: Jul 17, 2017 3:51 PM

    somewheredownthecrazyriver says:
    TD is coming off back to back Pro Bowls, is a vocal team leader, and supports our city…and Gettleman slow plays the extension? Same with Olsens contract. Not wise.
    —-

    The NFL is a business, and smart businessmen do not offer new contracts for something an employee has already done, only what they think they may be capable of doing over the life of the new deal.
    Thomas Davis has ben a great player and is certainly an admirable guy. But at 34, and with his injury history, he’s getting very close to hitting that invisible wall. It’s unlikely any investment in his future would pay off in any significant way for the Panthers.
    I wish people — media and fans alike — would stop using Pro Bowls as a measuring stick. They’re popularity/name recognition contests. These days, half the guys that play in them are replacements for guys who were actually voted in, but chose not to participate for one reason or another.

  24. kuechlyisabeast says: Jul 17, 2017 3:59 PM

    TD means a lot to this organization. We need more details on how far apart Davis and the organization are/were in regards to contract. Also, we need to know how firm Gettleman was in regards to that.

    If Gettleman would not budge at all and basically said “let TD walk or I’m out as GM”, then see ya Gettleman. Because TD needs to be signed and finish his career with the Panthers.

    However, if TD is demanding too much and Richardson said sign him at all costs, then Richardson is wrong. But I think there is a common ground where we extend Davis for a year (maybe 2 years?) and increase his pay a little to keep him happy.

    It shouldn’t have come to this.

  25. chrisk61 says: Jul 17, 2017 4:02 PM

    bad signs for carolina

    so much for their return to the playoffs

  26. buffalosunshine says: Jul 17, 2017 4:20 PM

    if you are not doing what the owner wants or are not conducting business in the way the owner wants why should you still feel like you are going to have a job? While I do not agree with “loyalty” payments maybe the owner does and to have GM do the opposite of what you want as an owner pretty much is the nail in the coffin.

  27. mrboado says: Jul 17, 2017 4:22 PM

    Lack of loyalty? The man got paid for his services. Almost $55 million over 12 seasons. Don’t bite AND THEN CHEW ON the hand that feeds you.

    Be patient, you’ll get that incentive laden contract. If not, another team will pick you up.

  28. campcouch says: Jul 17, 2017 4:51 PM

    Don’t act like the owner doesn’t sign off on every deal.

  29. waynefontesismyfather says: Jul 17, 2017 4:57 PM

    I bet that Dave Beane guy or whatever his name is that left the #2 spot with Carolina to go be the GM in Buffalo is kicking himself right now.

    Living in Charlotte is better than living in Buffalo every day of the year.

  30. absolutevisuals says: Jul 17, 2017 5:04 PM

    I think they will be okay. Gettleman made some good moves, but he also made some bad moves. I think the Superbowl was kind of a fluke with all the departures and retirings the year before.

    Their lack of depth showed the year later. That’s the difference from the Patriots and teams like Panthers. Even if their division is easier, Patriots will still be a 10 win team without Tom Brady, are a Superbowl Team with him. Panthers aren’t even a 8-8 team without Cam, and struggle to get there without Stewart. Gettleman might of open up some cap space but he did bad on the depth department.

  31. tedmurph says: Jul 17, 2017 6:02 PM

    Wrong. The two rookies, Bradberry and Worley had early season growing pains, but have developed very, very well and the CB positions are set for the Panthers on cheap rookie deals instead of an albatross $20m/yr Norman deal——————–
    1rst, I’m not WRONG because my opinion disagrees with yours. 2nd, the CB position was a sore spot for Carolina last yr, PERIOD. 3rd, having a shutdown CB is worth every penny in today’s NFL. Carolina is in a division with MRyan, DBrees and JWinston. Guys like Sherman and Talib are well worth having. Very nice that Carolina drafted guys. The Steelers do that every yr too, and it holds them hostage as well.

  32. notlistinin says: Jul 17, 2017 6:14 PM

    Another owner not named Jones meddling. It doesn’t matter that he waited for Gettleman to play his hand before striking, what matters is the next GM will know not to make the same mistake. The result is the same if the owner is the GM or isn’t, save the hiring of a ‘yes man’ rather than a free thinker running the team as he sees fit. There are many teams whose owners don’t do this, but it’s not the 31-1 (or 30-2 if you remember Snyder) narrative so many of you subscribe to.

    Of course, no one wants to see that, therefore they won’t.

  33. finnymcphin says: Jul 17, 2017 8:00 PM

    akira1971 says:
    Jul 17, 2017 3:11 PM
    finnymcphin says:

    Players and loyalty matter a lot with fans and absent championships they make up the biggest part of legacy, as in what they believe their team stands for. Gettleman hadn’t helped much on that account.
    —————–

    Fans care about winning a lot more. They don’t need to watch old veterans struggle.

    And you also need to remember – these stars only got to show their stuff because they replaced another veteran way back when. Same here – younger guys need the spots to show they belong, just like CB Bradberry and Worley did in 2016.
    —————————–

    I don’t disagree but you misunderstood the context of my post. I was referring to Richardson’s concern with his legacy, hence the ‘absent championships’ comment.

  34. jonwill57 says: Jul 17, 2017 9:44 PM

    Loyalty…not many non-QBs get to stay with a team after suffering not 1, not 2 but 3 torn ACLs. The fact they kept him around showed some level of loyalty. But I guess his wife forgot about that. To her I say…Time to get a job boo!

  35. giantsfan29910 says: Jul 17, 2017 10:48 PM

    Get rid of players a year too soon rather than a year too late. D’Angelo willams is another old injury prone backup, Jordan froas couldn’t get another playing job and retired, Steve Smith blue out his Achilles the year the panthers were in the Superbowl. Thanks Davis has been a great player while healthy. So has Greg Olsen. Giving monster deals to players in their 30’s is bad management. This owner will never win. I hope Gettleman returns to the Giants and Jerry Reese moves on.

  36. jade429 says: Jul 18, 2017 1:14 PM

    It has always been my belief that any writer that starts with IF is way way off. State the facts because IF is just you saying that you don’t know and that being the case then don’t say anything until you know. As for you fans on here having bad opinions about a man on the grounds of some writing from someone that doesn’t really know what they are talking about is just stupid.

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