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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers on Wednesday lifted the interim tag off of Marty Hurney’s title, making him the full-time general manager of the organization for the second time.

Hurney initially was with the Panthers from 1998 to 2012. He served as the general manager from 2002 through six games in the 2012 season, when he reached a mutual decision with owner Jerry Richardson to part after a 1-5 start.

He was hired as the interim general manager the week before the 2017 training camp after Richardson fired Dave Gettleman. The Panthers went 11-5.

A committee, led by chief operating officer Tina Becker, also interviewed Houston Texans assistant GM Jimmy Raye III, Buffalo assistant director of college scouting Lake Dawson (who returned for a second interview), and former Detroit Lions general manager and current San Francisco personnel executive Martin Mayhew. All three fulfilled the league rule that teams must interview at least one minority candidate when hiring a general manager or head coach.

In a statement, Becker said: “We are very fortunate to have Marty as our general manager after he did an exceptional job in the interim role this past season. Marty’s guidance and vision helped build the foundation for this team, and his work this season was instrumental in returning the team to the playoffs. We believe he will continue to craft a roster that will win games and contend for a championship.”

The Panthers were preparing to make this announcement several weeks ago, but put the process on hold after Hurney’s ex-wife accused him of harassment when seeking a temporary restraining order in court. The order was not granted and the complaint was dropped, but the NFL still conducted a two-week investigation to assure there was no violation under the league’s personal conduct policy.

Hurney was on paid administrative leave during the investigation, which revealed no violations.

Hurney returned to work Friday and has been preparing since with coach Ron Rivera and the staff for next week’s NFL combine and free agency.

He was viewed as the best person to help in the transition to new ownership when the team is sold by Richardson.

Richardson put the team up for sale after the season. He made the decision to sell in December after Sports Illustrated reported he paid off at least four former employees to keep quiet alleged sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur with a former team scout.

“I have always felt a strong connection to this organization and viewed this job as one of the very best in the NFL because of the people here,” Hurney said in a statement. “Mr. Richardson and Tina have been open and honest with me from the beginning, and I am thankful for the trust they have placed in me.

“I gained a lot of perspective being away and then back in an interim role last season. I feel that I am the best person to help Ron and this team moving forward. We have a really special core of players in place, and I’m extremely excited about the direction we are headed.”

Hurney said when rehired in July that he learned a lot about mistakes he made the first time as a general manager. One of his biggest was making what he called emotional decisions and giving veteran players bigger contracts than they deserved.

He vowed not to do that again, saying he has to make sure the “analytical part of my brain takes over the emotional part of my brain.”

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Gardner Minshew’s mullet is no more

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Mondays are heavy days historically, but this one is particularly so because Gardner Minshew II‘s mullet is no more.

Yeah, Minshew may have gotten a hair cut yesterday, but this is the first I’m learning about it. So the pain is as fresh as if the stylist had just swept the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ backup quarterback’s fallen locks from the floor.

In what feels like the last remnant of a phenomenon once known as “Minshew Mania,” the former pride of Duval County chopped off his power source:

At the risk of sounding rash, it seems to me Trevor Lawrence came to town and basically told his new QB2 that there wasn’t enough room for both of their glorious heads of hair in that town and, well, we know who won that battle.

To be fair, I sort of knew this was going to happen as soon as Tim Tebow signed with the Jags.

Tebow, Lawrence’s mane AND one of the defining mullets of our generation? That’s just too much juice for one team.

Now, let us take one last look at Minshew’s former masterpiece for posterity:

In the haunting words of Michelle Branch: “Goodbye to you, goodbye to everything that I knew.”



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Minnesota Vikings expect DE Danielle Hunter at mandatory minicamp, source says

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings expect to have defensive end Danielle Hunter back in the fold this week during mandatory minicamp, a source told ESPN, after the Pro Bowl defensive end missed the team’s entire voluntary offseason program.

Hunter, 26, sat out the 2020 NFL season with a herniated disk that required surgery last October. At the time of his surgery, it was reported that the defensive end was unhappy with the state of his contract and wanted a reworked deal ahead of the 2021 season.

NFL Network, which first reported that Hunter planned to attend minicamp, is reporting that the Vikings and Hunter have agreed to terms on a reworked deal that will give the defensive end $5.6 million of the $12.75 million he is set to make in 2021 as a signing bonus. Hunter now has an $18 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2022 league year.

With $14.272 million in cap space, the Vikings moved up a significant amount of money to satisfy Hunter’s desire for more compensation in the short term while allowing both parties the time to work out a long-term extension following the 2021 season, NFL Network reported. The Vikings will need to make a decision on Hunter’s future by the fifth day of the 2022 league year.

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CB Stephon Gilmore doesn’t report for New England Patriots’ mandatory minicamp, source says

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, did not report to mandatory minicamp that began Monday, a source confirmed.

Gilmore could be making a statement about his contract, as he is scheduled to earn a base salary of $7 million in 2021.

The Patriots had advanced $4.5 million of Gilmore’s 2021 salary to him last year, leading to this year’s low figure.

Gilmore, who turns 31 in September, is in the final year of the five-year, $65 million pact he signed with the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. The deal included $40 million in injury guarantees and $31 million fully guaranteed at signing.

At the time, a contract with those guarantees and an average of $13 million per season was viewed as a strong deal. The cornerback market has since exploded, with Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams topping it with a contract averaging $20 million per season.

Acknowledging they didn’t have specifics of the situation, teammates noted Gilmore’s absence in the locker room Monday, as well as on the practice field.

“I support my brother. I wish he was here, but I support him all the same,” veteran safety Adrian Phillips said. “What he has going, whenever he gets back here, he’ll let you know how it went.”

Longtime captain Matthew Slater added: “That’s a situation I don’t want to get too far into, because it’s frankly none of my business. Obviously you support all your teammates, whether they are here or not.”

Head coach Bill Belichick deflected questions on Gilmore earlier Monday and wouldn’t reveal whether he has given him (or any player) an excused absence. Players who don’t report for mandatory minicamp can be fined up to $93,085 — which breaks down to $15,515 for the first missed day, $31,030 for the second missed day and $46,540 for the third missed day.

Gilmore partially tore his quad in a Week 15 loss last season, landing on injured reserve.

The Boston Globe first reported Gilmore’s absence.

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