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With key deals looming, history with vets might have been Gettleman's undoing

From ESPN - July 17, 2017

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 all-time leading receiver Steve Smith following the 2013 season. He released 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 manner in which it was handled.

Gettleman also parted with Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman following the 2015 Super Bowl season. That decision in large part led to a 6-10 record in 2016 and drew Gettleman more criticism.

So the timing of team owner Jerry Richardson letting Gettleman go 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 did not 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.

Mills is the only player with a statue outside the stadium.

Davis likely is the next.

But Davis wants to play a few more years, and if Gettleman offered resistance, it's only natural that Richardson would step in.

The last thing the Panthers need as they try to recapture the magic they had during a 15-1 2015 season is to have two of their biggest and most popular stars disgruntled.

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