CHARLOTTE, N.C. – As rumors continue to swirl regarding possible contract disputes between veteran players and former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman, Thomas Davis is telling his side of the story.
Gettleman was fired as the team’s GM Monday after leading the team for four seasons that included three consecutive NFC South championships and an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Following Gettleman’s dismissal, word began to spread among NFL circles that Gettleman’s cut-throat, business-like approach wasn’t doing him any favors politically, especially when it came to contract negotiations.
Davis, who has spent his entire career with Carolina, was among the players reportedly looking for a new deal.
“We had actually engaged in contract talks,” Davis told NBC Charlotte in an exclusive interview. “They presented something and we presented something back, and we were just in the process of negotiating.
“I felt like the talks were going well. There’s nothing that’s going to happen overnight, it’s a negotiation for a reason.
“We understand that as players and it really wasn’t any hard feelings from my end, because we understand that. They don’t have to do it. It’s a situation where I have another year and they can make me play it out, or make Greg (Olsen) play his remaining two years out. As players, that’s something we agreed to a long time ago. You just want some clarity, some certainty moving forward as a player and I’m thankful that the organization is willing to do it.”
Gettleman’s handling of several key players’ exits, including fan favorites Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams, was a polarizing topic among both NFL insiders and fans. Both Williams and Smith tweeted responses to Gettleman's firing Monday.
I want to publicly say @Panthers is off my list of teams I won't play for due to the firing of that snake Dave gettleman! 😎😎👌🏽✊🏽— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) July 17, 2017
When asked if he felt his contract played a role in Gettleman’s firing, Davis was flattered but said he's not that vital to the organization.
“It’s really sad and disappointing when you hear all the people that are saying that the reason Mr. Gettleman was released was because of me or Greg. I think that’s an unfair statement. I think that’s something that you guys are giving us too much credit; we’re not that important in the grand scheme of things and intimately, Mr. Richardson made a decision and it’s something that we’re all going to live with.”
The 2014 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award winner said he was shocked to hear that Gettleman was relieved of his duties and that the players never saw it coming. He also said that despite reports of a rocky relationship between Gettleman and the locker room, things weren’t that bad in his eyes between the players and the front office.
“Nothing out of the norm when you think about a GM and player relationship,” Davis said. “We understand that this is a business. We come to work. We enjoy doing what we do, (and) we love playing this game. At the same time, I’ve been around long enough to know this is a business and it has to run as such.”
Davis, who was drafted by the Panthers in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft, has earned consecutive Pro Bowl appearances the last two seasons, as well as being named to the NFL’s All-Pro team following the club’s appearance in Super Bowl 50.