The collective and informed theory is that Gettleman's gruff treatment of beloved vets - read Steve Smith, De'Angelo Williams and now perhaps Thomas Davis and Greg Olsen - eventually toxified his relationship with Richardson.
If we accept that as true, Gettleman was fired for making cold business decisions aimed at winning in a cold business that values only winning. Is he needlessly cold in his dealings with players? Maybe. Certainly appears that way anyway based on the Twitter reaction of a few former Panthers:
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
"👀" 🤔— *Joshua R. Norman (@J_No24) July 17, 2017
Fact is, that shouldn't matter. Or matter enough to toss him aside anyway.
Gettleman totally overhauled a team buried in salary cap hell, won three division titles in four years, and oh yeah, put a team in that little thing we call the Super Bowl. That he's a bit of a meanie should be an acceptable character wart given his proven competence at the job.
It's Richardson's right as an owner to run his team however he sees fit, so if he wants a happy feel good clubhouse of overpaid, over stayed fan favorites, have at it. If he wants to build a successful, potentially championship caliber team, I'd suggest he just fired one of the few men who's proven himself up to the task.
Training camp begins in a week.