<
>

Panthers have their share of team dysfunction, but who doesn't?

play
Polian shocked Hurney returned to Panthers (1:16)

Bill Polian breaks down Carolina's decision to bring in Marty Hurney to replace David Gettleman as general manager. (1:16)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The word "dysfunctional" has been used often the past week to describe the Carolina Panthers, who on Monday fired a successful general manager and replaced him with the man he succeeded four years ago.

But aren't NFL teams in general dysfunctional? Even successful ones?

The New England Patriots have had more than their share of dysfunctional situations, from the sometimes outrageous exploits of tight end Rob Gronkowski to "Deflategate." They have also won two of the past three Super Bowls and are arguably the most successful team in league history.

The Houston Texans gave quarterback Brock Osweiler a four-year, $72 million deal last offseason before he spoke with the head coach. They then traded him to the Cleveland Browns this offseason after making the playoffs.

Everything about the Browns feels dysfunctional.

The Dallas Cowboys have defined dysfunction for years under owner Jerry Jones, whose decision two years ago to sign former Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy fresh off domestic violence charges still defies common sense. There is more potential for dysfunction in the organization surrounding running back Ezekiel Elliott.

The NFC South is full of dysfunction. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired Lovie Smith after the 2015 season, only two years into the job and with a seemingly bright future with quarterback Jameis Winston. The Chicago Bears, by the way, fired Smith after he won 10 games in 2012 -- after he led them to three NFC North titles and a Super Bowl appearance.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for the season five years ago for the team's bounty program. The organization has stuck with Payton despite four 7-9 seasons since 2012.

Payton told ESPN in February 2016 that he believes "more than half" the teams in the league are dysfunctional.

"More" feels right.

Asked to define "dysfunctional," Payton said: "The communication between that triangle of ownership, general manager and head coach. And I see each year things that take place and I think, 'Man, we don't have to worry about them.'"

So Carolina's decision to fire Dave Gettleman after he led Carolina to three NFC South titles and a trip to the Super Bowl in four seasons and replace him with Marty Hurney, who was fired six games into the 2012 season, isn't all that out of the ordinary, as dysfunctional as it appears.

Even if it did come with players set to report to training camp Tuesday.

But the Panthers still are a team that Payton and the rest of the league should have to worry about. They still have the pieces to return to the playoffs with quarterback Cam Newton and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly as their offensive and defensive centerpieces.

Hurney isn't wasting time making sure Carolina's long-term future is secure, either. Just 24 hours after being named the interim general manager, he signed guard Trai Turner to a four-year, $45 million deal Thursday. He also released tackle Michael Oher, who has been in the concussion protocol since September.

Neither move is a surprise. Turner is a Pro Bowl player entering the last year of his rookie deal. Oher remains in the protocol, and the organization had offered several hints they were moving on.

These moves would have occurred no matter who was in charge.

Hurney also plans to sit down with Pro Bowl outside linebacker Thomas Davis (34) and tight end Greg Olsen (31) to discuss extensions. Davis, who is entering the final year of his deal, wants to play for at least another year or two.

Olsen, who has two more years on his deal, wants a salary worthy of one of the league's top tight ends after becoming the first one in NFL history with three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

That Hurney signed Turner, 24, shows a priority toward the future before locking down older veterans. During his stint as Carolina's general manager from 2002 through six games into the 2012 season, he was criticized for rewarding older veterans, making it harder financially to keep players like Turner.

Hurney admitted during his Wednesday news conference that he has learned to be more analytical than emotional when making such decisions. What he's done so far appears to show just that.

Davis and Olsen still should get extensions, but not at the cost of mortgaging the future. That's why Hurney hasn't rushed into anything.

While "dysfunctional" has been a fair term during the last week to describe the Panthers, it doesn't appear to be anything that will disrupt the culture that owner Jerry Richardson and head coach Ron Rivera want.

If anything, that culture may be stronger.

Players such as team captain Charles Johnson already have come out in support of Hurney. Rivera called Hurney the right person at the right time.

That doesn't sound dysfunctional. That just sounds normal.