The Carolina Panthers extended the housecleaning of their top football decision-makers, firing Scott Fitterer as their general manager.
The move comes after the Panthers lost Sunday to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to finish the season with an NFL-worst record of 2-15. They were shut out in each of their final two games, losing by a combined 35-0 to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buccaneers.
“As we move forward with the new direction for our franchise, I have made the decision that Scott Fitterer will no longer serve as our general manager,” Panthers owner David Tepper said in a written statement. “I appreciate Scott’s efforts and wish the best for him and his family.”
Tepper previously fired Frank Reich only 11 games into his coaching tenure with the team. So the Panthers will be searching for both a new general manager and a new head coach. Chris Tabor finished the season as the interim head coach.
The Panthers hired Fitterer, who’d spent 20 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, as their GM in January 2021. The team went 14-37 in three seasons with Fitterer leading the front office.
The Panthers won’t have the benefit of having the top choice in this year’s NFL draft. They traded that pick to the Chicago Bears as part of the deal that enabled them to move up in the first-round order to select quarterback Bryce Young with the No. 1 choice in last year’s NFL draft.
Young struggled as a rookie while C.J. Stroud, the No. 2 selection, immediately became a star and led the Houston Texans to the AFC South title. Tepper said during a news conference on the day after he fired Reich that Panthers officials had been unanimous in their desire to pick Young and that he had supported that decision.
The tumult of the Panthers’ season also included the NFL fining Tepper $300,000 after video posted to social media showed him throwing a drink toward fans in the stands in front of his suite at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville during the loss to the Jaguars.
The sweeping changes that were expected following Josh Harris’s first season as owner of the Washington Commanders commenced Monday, as the team fired Ron Rivera as its coach.
The move had been widely expected. The Commanders completed a 4-13 season with Sunday’s 38-10 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field. They will have the No. 2 selection in this year’s NFL draft.
Rivera coached the Commanders for four seasons, going 26-40-1. He never led the Commanders to a winning season but, even at 7-9, won the NFC East title in the 2020 season.
The NFL’s team owners ratified the sale of the Commanders to Harris’s investment group on July 20, too late for the group to make major changes before the season. The new owners gave team president Jason Wright, members of the front office and Rivera the season to prove themselves.
The Atlanta Falcons again failed to turn at least a modest amount of promise into results, compelling them to fire coach Arthur Smith following the third losing season of his three-year tenure.
Owner Arthur Blank made the move hours after the Falcons lost in lopsided fashion Sunday in New Orleans to miss the playoffs and finish 7-10. It was the Falcons’ third straight 7-10 season under Smith, who was hired after a stint as the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans.
“Decisions like this are never easy and they never feel good,” Blank said in a statement released by the Falcons. “We have profound respect for Coach Smith and appreciate all the hard work and dedication he has put into the Falcons over the last three years. He has been part of building a good culture in our football team, but the results on the field have not met our expectations. After significant thought and reflection, we have determined the best way forward for our team is new leadership in the head coaching position.”
The Falcons said the move was made at a meeting Sunday night in Atlanta involving Blank, Smith and Rich McKay, the team’s chief executive officer.
The season ended with Smith directing a profane tirade at Saints Coach Dennis Allen on the field following Sunday’s game. Smith was upset that the Saints had run for a touchdown out of the victory formation in their 48-17 win. Allen issued a public apology to Smith and the Falcons during his postgame news conference, saying Smith had the right to be upset.
The Falcons entered Sunday with a chance to reach the playoffs. They would have won the NFC South, even with an 8-9 record, if they had beaten the Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had lost to the Panthers. But the Buccaneers beat the Panthers to win the division at 9-8.
Smith — the 41-year-old son of FedEx founder Fred Smith, a former limited partner in Washington’s NFL team — failed to get the Falcons back to the level they reached under his predecessor, Dan Quinn. The Falcons made the Super Bowl under Quinn in the 2016 season but squandered a 28-3 lead to lose to the New England Patriots in overtime, 34-28. The Falcons returned to the playoffs the following season but have not been back since.
Smith did not resolve the Falcons’ quarterback situation after they traded Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts in March 2022 following a failed bid to acquire Deshaun Watson. The Falcons attempted to establish second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder as their starter this season. But Ridder struggled, and backup Taylor Heinicke made four starts in a failed attempt to salvage the season.
The Falcons said the search for Smith’s successor would be led by Blank and McKay and will include “input” from General Manager Terry Fontenot and “several other appropriate members of Blank’s Atlanta Falcons and AMB Sports and Entertainment organizations.”
Teams searching for new coaches
The Falcons and Commanders joined the Las Vegas Raiders, Panthers and Los Angeles Chargers in searching for new coaches. The Raiders, Panthers and Chargers fired their coaches during the season.