A quiet Monday in the NFL has been rocked by a surprise firing in Carolina.
Richardson explained in a statement that "much thought and a long evaluation of our football operations" led to his decision, adding: "I want to thank Dave for the role he played in our success over the past four seasons. While the timing of this decision is not ideal, a change is needed."
Make no mistake: This is a stunning turn of events, especially the timing. The Panthers are days away from launching training camp and now veer into the guts of the season without a clear-cut general manager. Before dumping Gettleman, the team also saw president Danny Morrison resign in February before assistant general manager Brandon Beane bolted for a job with the Bills.
The Panthers enjoyed remarkable success during Gettleman's run with the club, which began in 2013. Despite finishing 6-10 last season, Carolina was a playoff entry in each of his first three campaigns, a streak that peaked with an appearance in Super Bowl 50. The 66-year-old Gettleman capably steered the franchise out of salary-cap hell upon his arrival and worked well with coach Ron Rivera, lacing the roster with affordable, productive free agents and plug-and-play college prospects.
Richardson's eleventh-hour decision points to a level of unrest behind closed doors that few would have fretted over a day ago. One of the most consistent franchises in the NFC is suddenly packed with questions heading into the regular season.