FEBRUARY 1: Confirming Evero remains in the Panthers’ plans, Canales said Thursday the incumbent DC is “a huge piece” of his vision as head coach. After blocking three DC interviews, the Panthers appear intent on following through with a Canales-Evero partnership.
JANUARY 31: Authoring one of the more interesting stretches by an assistant coach in recent NFL history, Ejiro Evero again has generated considerable interest despite being tied to a bad team. HC and DC interest has come Evero’s way, and it does not appear the Panthers’ HC hire has changed their plans regarding the incumbent defensive play-caller.
With Evero under contract, the Panthers have blocked him from meeting with the Jaguars, Dolphins and Giants. With Dave Canales in the fold, The Athletic’s Joseph Person notes the team still wants to retain Evero. HCs usually bring in their own coordinator, but the Panthers have expressed interest in keeping Evero for weeks. That does not appear a dealbreaker for Canales, who received a six-year contract in the wake of the Panthers firing coaches in-season in back-to-back years (subscription required).
While Canales looks to want Evero to join OC Brad Idzik on the 2024 Carolina staff, Person adds Evero may now prefer a move elsewhere. A sense around the league points to Evero, 43, aiming to explore a coordinator role outside Charlotte rather than stay with the Panthers for a second season. This is familiar territory for Evero, whom the Broncos attempted to keep last year.
Broncos ownership attempted to convince Sean Payton to retain Evero. The team blocked him from interviewing for the Falcons’ DC gig, but after Evero met with Payton, the Broncos agreed to let their defensive coordinator out of his contract. Multiple teams then expressed interest, and David Tepper is believed to have authorized a higher-end coordinator deal to bring Evero to Charlotte. The landscape looks quite different a year later.
Tepper fired Frank Reich 11 games in, making the well-liked HC the second-shortest-tenured HC (excluding the Rams’ firing of George Allen before the 1978 season) since the merger. It would be understandable if Evero was less interested in staying under a head coach that did not hire him. These arranged marriages can lead to quick separations, and Evero’s 2023 season did not go especially well. Although the Panthers ranked fourth in total defense, they finished 29th in points allowed — a number the team’s anemic offense influenced — and 25th in defensive DVOA.
Evero’s Broncos defense fared better, ranking 14th in points ceded, seventh in total defense and 13th in DVOA. The Broncos hired Vance Joseph to replace Evero, whose teams have won a combined seven games over the past two seasons. Clubs are still monitoring this situation, but the Panthers — for now, at least — are keeping him off the coordinator market. In addition to the Giants and Dolphins, the Rams are believed to be interested. Evero spent five seasons on Sean McVay‘s staff, but the team has interviewed Raheem Morris‘ DC predecessor — Brandon Staley, who supervised Evero in 2020 — on Wednesday. Seeing as three teams have seen their interview requests denied, it would be natural for them to look elsewhere. Counting the positions in Seattle and Washington, eight DC jobs remain unfilled.
Elsewhere on the Panthers’ staff, Person adds they are not retaining pass-game coordinator Parks Frazier. Considering Frazier’s ties to Reich, this is hardly surprising. Frazier finished the 2022 season as the Colts’ play-caller, rising from his assistant QBs coach post after two other Indianapolis staffers turned down the gig under Jeff Saturday. Reich brought Frazier with him to Carolina, but after the Panthers’ offense faceplanted in 2023, a full-on overhaul looks set to commence.