Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper made another gear-shifting move as he reshapes the franchise.
The Panthers fired general manager Marty Hurney Monday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source informed of the situation.
Tepper noted in a statement that after discussions with Hurney about the structure of the franchise, they differed on approach. The owner said he respected Hurney's traditional style but wants a modern, data-driven process in his football operations office.
"I think sometimes you just need a restart, a refresh," Tepper 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."
After hiring Matt Rhule last year, Tepper expects to hire a new GM with likeminded processes. Rhule will play a role in hiring the new general manager.
"You look at successful organizations, 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, OK?"
When Tepper took over the club three years ago, he left the brass in place. Last year, the club fired Ron Rivera and hired Rhule. After a third-straight losing season, Hurney is now out.
It's the second time Hurney has been let go by the Panthers. The first came in 2012 after a decade in the GM role, following stints as the director of football administration and player operations. Hurney returned as interim GM in 2017 after Carolina fired Dave Gettleman, and was given the full-time role in 2018.
With close ties to current Washington coach Ron Rivera, it's possible Hurney could land in D.C. The club is currently operating without a traditional GM.
Rivera, whose team faces the Panthers this coming Sunday, elected to not discuss his front office situation when speaking with reporters Monday.
"All that stuff, all that personnel stuff, is going to be addressed after the season is over," Rivera said, per The Washington Post. "We're focusing in on the playoff run right here."
Rivera added: "As far as Marty Hurney is concerned, I really appreciated working with him. He's a very hard-worker, he's a very bright man, he knows the game."
Tepper himself addressed the speculation that Hurney could join Rivera in D.C.
"I think some of the timing of this decision was out of respect for Marty so he can look at other places," Tepper said, per The Athletic.
Sitting at 4-10 this season, the Panthers haven't had a winning season since 2017.
The latest move by Tepper underscores that Rhule is the driver of the Panthers future. Carolina has been competitive often this season but needs an injection of talent to get over the hump.
Rapoport noted several potential options to pair with Rhule, including Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland, Bills assistant director of college scouting Lake Dawson and Colts VP of player personnel Ed Dodds.
Speaking with the Panthers' official team website, Tepper made it clear he's willing to think outside of the box when it comes to his next GM.
"I'm trying to figure out what should be the right structure for an organization today," he said. "Just because there's been the same structure in the NFL forever in a lot of places doesn't mean it should be the same structure now."
The Panthers' opening is the fifth GM job available this offseason, joining the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars.