The New York Giants have hired former Carolina Panthers architect Dave Gettleman as their new general manager following Jerry Reese’s ouster on Dec. 4. The Giants announced Gettleman’s hiring on Thursday with a joint statement from team president John Mara and chairman Steve Tisch: “Given where we are as a team, we thought it was important to bring in someone with experience as a General Manager and a proven track record. Dave’s experience is unparalleled. He did an outstanding job as general manager in Carolina, and he was vital to our success during his tenure here. Dave is going to bring his own approach to our organization in how we draft and acquire players through free agency”. Kevin Abrams is expected to remain with the Giants as assistant GM, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Gettleman, 66, was long considered the favorite for the vacant position. Giants ownership “almost always hire[s] individuals with ties to the organization,” and that fact boosted Gettleman’s candidacy since he worked in the team’s front office between 1998-2012, largely as the pro personnel director. Following a decade-and-a-half with Big Blue, Gettleman spent four seasons as Carolina’s general manager. During that stretch, Gettleman helped propel the Panthers to three straight postseason appearances, including a 15-1 finish in 2015 that included an NFC championship. However, the Panthers pulled a stunner in July when they fired Gettleman as the team ramped up preparations for the 2017 season. Gettleman was ultimately jettisoned because his “brusque management style—which had made him unpopular with some Carolina players from his earliest days as GM—had begun to wear thin throughout the organization”. Furthermore, Gettleman reportedly irked owner Jerry Richardson based on the way he handled contract negotiations with several players, including linebacker Thomas Davis and tight end Greg Olsen. There was also the matter of Gettleman’s decision to rescind cornerback Josh Norman’s franchise tag in April 2016—a move that understandably raised eyebrows. Now back with the Giants, Gettleman will have several big decisions to make during his first few months on the job. First and foremost, he’ll have to hire a new head coach. And according to Rapoport, “Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks will get a serious look because of his reputation and their history.”
The Steelers cut James Harrison. After he cleared waivers, they didn’t move promptly to bring him back. And so Harrison opted to continue his playing career by joining the Patriots. As evidenced throughout social media, Steelers fans aren’t reacting well, with multiple fans burning his jersey. But they’re not mad at the Steelers for cutting Harrison; they’re mad at Harrison for having the audacity to continue his playing career with the Patriots. It’s stupid. It’s petty. It’s unfair. The Steelers fired him. What’s he supposed to do? Not play? Sign with the Browns? The fact that the anger would be directed at Harrison and not the Steelers proves yet again that, when it comes to choosing between blaming a player or blaming the team, fans will find a way to blame the player. Even if they should blame the team. If/when Harrison delivers a game-changing sack against Ben Roethlisberger in the AFC title game, the fans should definitely blame the team. And they won’t.
The Panthers aren’t the only team making the playoffs without having what you’d call known commodities at wide receiver. In fact, the Jaguars’ struggles to keep a pair of pass-catchers on the field have been even more of a challenge because of injuries. It was bad enough that top target Allen Robinsonsuffered a torn ACL in Week One. But then Allen Hurns suffered a high ankle sprain in Week Nine and hasn’t played since. Then in the last three weeks, they’ve lost Marqise Lee to an ankle injury, Larry Pinkard to a concussion and Jaelen Strong tore his ACL. Rookie Keelan Cole has been limited in practice this week as well, leaving them short on options for quarterback Blake Bortles. “You always have to be ready to adjust,’’ offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said, via John Reid of the Florida Times-Union. “When it comes to the receivers, when it comes to the offensive line, the running backs, they’ve had a lot of changes. That’s part of the game and you’ve got to keep on rolling. I think the one consistent thing has been Blake and he’s done a really good job not letting the changes affect him.’’
Johnny Manziel’s return to professional football is close to getting a green light from north of the border. Canadian Football League Commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced Thursday the league is prepared to approve a contract for Manziel to play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats if he continues to meet certain conditions tied to his eligibility. The Tiger-Cats own Manziel’s CFL rights. “The Commissioner has now informed Mr. Manziel and the Tiger-Cats he is prepared to approve a contract for Mr. Manziel should one be negotiated. “The process that led to this decision does, however, continue. Mr. Manziel has been informed he must continue to meet a number of conditions in order to remain eligible. These conditions, while extensive and exacting, remain confidential”. Manziel, 25, hasn’t played professional football since his release from the Cleveland Browns after the 2015 season. The former Heisman Trophy winner, who was drafted 22nd overall by the Browns in 2014 following a standout career at Texas A&M, was cut by the Browns while under investigation for domestic assault against his former girlfriend. He later reached a deal with prosecutors for conditional dismissal of the charge. In addition, the NFL issued a four-game suspension on Manziel in June 2016 for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Manziel lost six of the eight games he started for the Browns, completing 57 percent of his passes. Despite this, it appears the Tiger-Cats are working toward making Manziel’s football comeback a reality. “We appreciate the CFL office and Commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s due diligence in this matter,” the Tiger-Cats said in a statement. “We also recognize Johnny Manziel for thus far demonstrating the attributes necessary to continue his career in our great league. We will have no further comment at this time”.