The Carolina Panthers entered the offseason widely viewed as having the worst head-coaching vacancy in the NFL. With league-wide concerns about owner David Tepper’s involvement, many in the NFL believed Carolina would have an extremely difficult time finding a new head coach and general manager.
Just one year ago, the reputation of the Panthers’ organization was more favorable. Carolina hired Frank Reich as its head coach, with Tepper investing millions of dollars in one of the deepest coaching staffs in the NFL. The Panthers then traded D.J. Moore, two first-round picks and additional assets to land quarterback Bryce Young with the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
By November 2023, Reich was fired and reports emerged of Tepper meddling throughout the season. Not only did reports emerge that Carolina’s owner kept assistants on the Panthers coaching staff to secretly report to him behind Reich’s back, but he also had to be disciplined by the NFL for throwing a drink at a fan.
Without a first-round pick in 2024 and because Tepper built a reputation of being extremely short-tempered and untrustworthy, many thought Carolina would struggle to fill its vacancies at coach and general manager. However, the additions of head coach Dave Canales and executive Brandt Tilis are generating positive responses from around the league.
According to Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team, many in the NFL are crediting the Panthers’ organization for both how it has started this offseason and the hirings it has made.
One of the biggest things Carolina is receiving credit for is giving Canales more freedom. While he is a first-year head coach, Tepper issued the green light for Canales to have total control over new hires to the Panthers coaching staff. Carolina dismissed assistants who were reportedly loyal to Tepper, creating a working environment where everyone will be on the same page.
NFL executives aren’t just fond of the new Panthers’ coaching staff and Tepper’s willingness to let the football people make decisions. The Panthers are also receiving praise for their front-office hires, including Tilis and general manager Dan Morgan.
The thinking is that Carolina has built a model similar to the one that has made the San Francisco 49ers successful. Morgan will serve as the team’s primary talent evaluator, while Tilis handles the salary cap and contract negotiations.
Considering where things started out this offseason, with Carolina viewed as the worst organization in the NFL with the bleakest future, the 2024 NFL offseason has already been an improvement for the Panthers organization.