Carolina Panthers reach agreement with Scott Fitterer on GM job

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers hope Scott Fitterer will do for them what he helped the Seattle Seahawks do after the 2013 season.

Win a Super Bowl.

Seattle's 47-year-old vice president of football operations reached an agreement Thursday to become the Panthers' general manager.

The deal is for five years, it was announced.

"We went through a thorough process, and it was a great final four," Panthers owner David Tepper said. "We thought Scott was the best fit for the organization."

He was picked over three other finalists: Kansas City Chiefs assistant director of player personnel Ryan Poles (35), San Francisco 49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters (41) and Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel Monti Ossenfort (42).

Fitterer was a late addition to the search but, according to sources, quickly impressed the search panel.

Carolina interviewed 15 candidates overall to replace Marty Hurney, who was fired with two games remaining in a 5-11 2020 season. Among those were two internal candidates, director of player negotiations and salary-cap manager Samir Suleiman and director of player personnel Pat Stewart.

Each of the finalists fit the job description of being relatively young with a strong scouting background to work in collaboration with head coach Matt Rhule to identify talent. Owner David Tepper also was looking for a general manager who was data driven.

Rhule will have final decisions on the 53-man roster, according to sources with knowledge of the hire, similar to what Andy Reid has with Kansas City and Bill Belichick has with the New England Patriots.

However, Hall of Fame NFL executive Bill Polian warned not to make too much out of that.

"That's highly, highly, highly overstated,'' said Polian, who helped Indianapolis win a Super Bowl during the 2006 season and built a Buffalo roster that went to four straight Super Bowls in the early 1990s. "An effort between the GM and head coach and coaching staff is to get the best 53 players, and if there's issue it's almost always decided in favor of the head coach. He has to go and play.

"I had only two situations in my whole career, and in both cases it went the way the head coach wanted it to go.''

Fitterer has been with Seattle since 2001, initially as an area scout. He moved up the chain to his current position, where he has worked closely with general manager John Schneider in making the Seahawks a perennial playoff team.

Schneider, in a statement released late Thursday, said Fitterer will be "an amazing leader" for the Panthers.

"While he will be missed here in Seattle, we are excited for his opportunity," Schneider said. "Scott is very talented and his strengths are many: He is a great evaluator of people, an excellent communicator, and a tremendous person."

Fitterer has interviewed for several general manager jobs around the league the past few years. In his first four years as the director of college scouting, he selected 13 players who eventually became starters.

Fitterer was a two-sport athlete in college, playing quarterback and pitching at UCLA and LSU. He spent three years in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor league system before turning to football as a part-time scout for the New York Giants in 1998.