David Tepper

NFC Rumors: Cowboys, Tepper, Greenlaw

The Cowboys hit on quite a few of their picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, with first-rounder Tyler Smith reaching second-team All-Pro status last year, fourth-rounder Jake Ferguson earning the starting tight job halfway through his rookie season, and fifth-rounder DaRon Bland leading the NFL in interceptions, interception return yards, and pick sixes last season. Their second- and third-round picks from that draft, though, are still struggling to make a similar impact two years in. That may be changing soon.

Former second-round edge rusher Sam Williams found his name getting called fourth on the depth chart last year, behind Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Dorance Armstrong. It’s hard to imagine being disappointed with a fourth-place finish in that situation, considering Parsons has become a perennial DPOY candidate, Lawrence is a four-time Pro Bowler, and Armstrong is a veteran with 21.0 sacks in the last three years. Still, per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, Williams wants to play more, and director of player personnel Stephen Jones claims that, thanks to Armstrong’s departure in free agency to Washington, those opportunities will come this year, though he will be competing now with this year’s second-round pick Marshawn Kneeland.

Likewise, third-round wide receiver Jalen Tolbert has seen limited production behind CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Noah Brown, and Michael Gallup. With Brown gone last year, Tolbert stepped his role up a little bit. After the team released Gallup, Tolbert is, once again, expected to step his game up in 2024. With Lamb and Cooks returning, Tolbert will now be given a larger opportunity to step in as WR3, per David Moore of the Dallas Morning News.

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC:

  • Many have looked at the Panthers‘ decision to draft Bryce Young over C.J. Stroud in the 2023 NFL Draft as a gigantic misstep, given the vast difference in success each team saw last year. According to Joseph Person of The Athletic, some in the Panthers organization point to the S2 cognitive test as the main reasoning for the decision. Per Person, team owner David Tepper, a hedge-fund billionaire and a proponent of analytics, took the S2 test results very heavily into consideration when helping the team to make their decision. The test of processing speed and reaction time has been looked at as a potential indicator of future success at the quarterback position. Young scored extremely well (in the 98th percentile), while Stroud did not (18th percentile).
  • 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw notoriously missed a good mount of the team’s Super Bowl loss after tearing his Achilles tendon in the big game. According to a report from Matt Barrows of The Athletic, Greenlaw told the media that he had been experiencing some soreness in his Achilles for about a month or so before the game. He recently was able to shed his walking boot as he continues in recovery.
  • It’s been over a year since Steve Keim stepped down as general manager of the Cardinals following an indefinite leave of absence due to “an undisclosed health-related matter.” According to a recent interview Keim did with Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, the Cardinals administration advised Keim to check into a rehab while he was still general manager of the team. Of course, the situation eventually resulted in the two sides parting ways, but Keim continues to work on himself following the conclusion of his NFL career.

Panthers, Chargers Request HC Interviews With Bengals’ Brian Callahan

JANUARY 9: Callahan will have a chance to meet with the Chargers as well. The Bolts requested an HC interview with the five-year Bengals OC, per Pelissero. Unlike the Panthers last year, the Chargers have not made their priorities clear in terms of coaching expertise. Callahan joins Ben Johnson, Todd Monken and OC Kellen Moore as offense-oriented coaches on the Bolts’ request list. Though, the team is interested in Jim Harbaugh. Moore interviewed for the job on Tuesday.

JANUARY 8: After firing Scott Fitterer earlier today, the Panthers have already started requesting general manager interviews. Apparently the organization isn’t wasting any time with their other major vacancy. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Panthers have requested an interview with Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan for their head coaching opening.

[RELATED: Panthers Request GM Interviews]

After being hired by the Bengals in 2019, Callahan’s offense would have a pair of underwhelming seasons before Joe Burrow took off in 2021. The Bengals offense ranked seventh in points in both 2021 and 2022, with the passing offense ranking top-10 in most categories between those two campaigns.

That performance earned him head coaching interviews in each of the past two offseasons. He was interviewed for the Broncos job in both 2022 and 2023, and he also earned interviews last offseason with the Cardinals and Colts. He got to the second round of interviews in Indy, an indication that he was on the brink of getting a HC gig.

The Bengals offense took a step back in 2023, although that was partly due to Burrow’s injury issues. That apparently hasn’t stopped the coordinator from generating head coaching interest, and he’s the first official candidate to replace Frank Reich (and interim fill-in Chris Tabor) in Carolina. While Callahan is the first definitive candidate, that hasn’t stopped pundits from speculating about other potential fits. We heard yesterday that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick could be an option in Carolina if he’s let go in New England.

One coordinator who won’t get a look in Carolina is Steve Wilks, who guided the Panthers to a 6-6 record while filling in for the fired Matt Rhule in 2022. Wilks was a main candidate to take on the full-time gig in Carolina, but owner David Tepper ultimately opted for Reich. Wilks went on to become defensive coordinator in San Francisco, and he helped guide the 49ers defense to a number of top-10 marks this season.

Despite his continued success, Wilks won’t be considered for the job in Carolina. Per ESPN’s David Newton, Tepper “won’t put aside his pride and admit he made a mistake” during last year’s coaching carousel.

Bill Belichick Interested In Panthers?

There has been an immense amount of speculation about where Patriots head coach Bill Belichick could end up if he does part ways with New England. We’ve heard rumors about Dallas, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Washington, and Carolina. While much of this is based on speculation and fit, Joseph Person of The Athletic reports that Belichick himself has inquired with others about Panthers owner David Tepper.

Now, we recently provided a report that Tepper has established a bit of a reputation that some in league circles believe could affect the team’s ability to bring in top head coaching candidates. Since buying the Panthers back in 2018, Tepper has proven to have very little patience with head coaches. In those six years, Tepper has fired three head coaches, and the two interims before the current interim head coach, Chris Tabor, have not been retained in the following years.

Perhaps a symptom of his lack of patience, perhaps a separate issue of its own, Tepper further marred his reputation when he threw his drink into a crowd in frustration recently, warranting a $300K fine from the NFL. This evidence of behavior, paired with his noted impatience with new head coaches, has some believing that potential head coaching candidates, especially ones entering their first head coaching gigs, will be wary of teaming up with Tepper in Carolina.

Belichick isn’t exactly the type of head coach the Panthers are targeting, though. It has been made widely known that Carolina is aiming to land a young, offensive-minded head coach that can mold rookie quarterback Bryce Young and, hopefully, work alongside current defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero to form a formidable coaching staff. Belichick is not that.

Still, if rumors of Tepper’s reputation prove to be true, Belichick may end up being the perfect match. Since Belichick isn’t considered a favorite candidate early, the Panthers may end up reaching out to him as a backup option, should they fail to secure the services of a Ben Johnson or a Brian Johnson. I doubt it would be either side’s first choice, but they just might end up being a perfect fit this offseason.

Some Panthers Coaches Could Stay On Staff; OC Thomas Brown Not Expected To Be One Of Them

While several fans will be awaiting the news of the firing of their team’s head coach in the next two days, Carolina fans have already processed their loss. The normal sequence of events whenever there is a changeover at head coach for an NFL team sees most of the accompanying coaching staff also lose their jobs as the team tends to clear house, allowing the new hire the opportunity to build their staff exactly as they desire. The Panthers, with owner David Tepper at the helm, are not a normal team.

We’ve already seen an example where Tepper asserts his authority, encouraging head coaching candidates a year ago to retain special teams coordinator (and current interim head coach) Chris Tabor and offensive line coach James Campen. Both assistants were retained by the now departed Frank Reich. Whether a direct correlation or not, rookie Bryce Young ended up as the second-most sacked quarterback of the season, and Reich lost his job. So, with Tepper likely to flex his influence once again, who is likely to be vouched for to the candidates who may replace Reich?

Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero is a no brainer. Despite giving up the fourth-most points in the NFL this season, the Panthers defense allowed the third-fewest yards this year. The offense routinely put the other unit in bad situations, but the Carolina defense did their best to limit the damage throughout the year.

Evero, though, will be a popular candidate for open head coaching jobs, as he was last year, as well. If the Panthers hire a young, offensive-minded head coach, holding onto Evero could be a perfect recipe for success. Coordinators who leave for head coaching gigs tend to bring their staff with them, so holding on to Evero would likely result in the retention of key defensive assistants like defensive line coach Todd Wash, linebackers coach Peter Hansen, safeties coach Bert Watts, and senior defensive consultant Dom Capers.

Though Evero and his staff could likely depart for greener pastures, it’s even more likely that the staff on the offensive side of the ball won’t return for the Panthers in 2024. The likeliest to return would be Campen, who Tepper continues to back despite a brutal 2023 campaign for the Panthers’ offensive line. Campen is still a highly respected coach in the NFL and delivered a strong offensive line for Carolina in 2022. His most likely route out of Carolina may be due to his connections with Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who seemingly has an outrageous amount of pull in New York.

The rest of the offensive staff, namely offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, face a much different situation. Brown is considered a rising, young mind in the league, earning several head coaching interviews last year before accepting his first coordinator position in Carolina. The coordinator title seemed mostly nominal when he arrived, though, as Reich retained play-calling duties for the offense to start the year.

This fit Brown just fine, as Brown’s best coaching qualities are more leadership-oriented than offensive. That didn’t stop Brown from providing dissenting opinions about the direction of the offense with Reich this year, leading to multiple arguments in house. Brown did lead Young to his only two wins as a play caller this year, but ultimately, the Panthers offense did not flourish under his eventual reign as play caller. There’s a chance that Brown, alone, could be retained for his leadership abilities, if Carolina does in fact hire a young, offensive-minded head coach, but the rest of the offensive staff would likely be replaced by the new hire’s preferred assistants.

Lastly, Tabor seems invincible in Carolina. While he doesn’t seem likely to receive any serious consideration for the permanent head coaching job, Tepper continues to favor Tabor for his leadership as the interim head coach and his record as a special teams coordinator.

All of this stands as mere speculation, though, until Carolina is able to secure their newest head coach. And with Tepper employing six coaches (including interims) as skippers since buying the team in 2018, he’s developing a reputation that may make it difficult to lure in top talent. According to ESPN’s David Newton, sources around the league believe that Tepper’s impatience for head coaches, coupled with his recent drink toss that led to a $300K fine, will impact the team’s head coaching search, making it difficult to nail down the candidates of their choice.

Still, a head coaching opportunity is the pinnacle of the profession, and someone will be sure to nail down this newest opportunity in Carolina. They just may be pressed to include some of the above coaches in their new staff.

Latest On Panthers’ Offseason Plans

The Panthers already have a head coaching vacancy, and there’s an expectation that he’ll soon have an opening at general manager. Unsurprisingly, it sounds like Panthers owner David Tepper isn’t wasting any time preparing for his next big hires.

[RELATED: Panthers Likely To Fire GM Scott Fitterer]

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Tepper has been working with consulting firm Sportsology, which is led by former Chelsea FC executive Mike Forde. As Joe Person of The Athletic notes, Forde recently helped Tepper with his Charlotte FC coaching search, and the executive has also worked with the Rams, 49ers, and Falcons. For what it’s worth, Tepper didn’t rely on a consulting firm when he hired Matt Rhule and Frank Reich.

While Scott Fitterer sounds like he’s at risk of losing his job, the general manager’s replacement could already be in the building. Per Schefter, Panthers assistant GM Dan Morgan has “support within the organization” to take over the full-time gig. There’s also a chance Fitterer sticks around the organization…at least temporarily. Dianna Russini of The Athletic writes that the GM could “help with some of the transition” to a new head coach.

Of course, whoever takes over at GM will face a tough task of turning around the franchise. The Panthers have already traded their first-round pick (which ultimately came in at No. 1) to the Bears in order to draft Bryce Young, who struggled throughout his rookie campaign. With limited draft resources and a roster that’s lacking top-end talent, the next GM will surely require a multi-year rebuild to get the Panthers back on track.

As for the replacement for the ousted Reich, Russini writes that Tepper is expected to “try again” to hire Ben Johnson. The Lions offensive coordinator is expected to be a popular name on the coaching circuit, just as he was last offseason. In fact, Johnson was at one time considered the front runner for the Panthers job before he dropped out of the race to stay in Detroit.

NFL Fines Panthers Owner David Tepper

A camera caught David Tepper appearing to throw a drink at a fan from his box seat Sunday in Jacksonville. The NFL has since levied a fine against the Panthers owner, whose reputation has taken some hits as of late.

The league fined Tepper $300K for “unacceptable conduct,” NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets. While this is not exactly a needle-mover for the NFL’s second-wealthiest owner, it has brought him more attention during a stretch in which questions have arisen about the Panthers’ direction on his watch. Today’s news does, however, spare Tepper a suspension for his actions in Florida.

All NFL personnel are expected to conduct themselves at all times in ways that respect our fans and favorably reflect on their team and the NFL,” the league said in a statement.

This incident, which came after a Bryce Young interception, comes at a key point on the Panthers’ timeline. Tepper fired Frank Reich after 11 games, doing so barely a year after he canned Matt Rhule in-season. Known for impulsive tendencies before the Reich ouster — the earliest a team has fired a coach since 1978 — Tepper has furthered that reputation this year. Reich admitted Tepper is a hands-on owner and said their midweek conversations veered toward the difficult side.

The Panthers are again looking for a new head coach, and Tepper’s actions — compounded by the Panthers’ decision to trade their 2024 first-round pick to move up for Young last year — have probably made their job less desirable. Tepper is widely viewed as the driver of the Panthers’ decision to draft Young over C.J. Stroud. A controversy about plans for a Panthers practice facility also emerged in 2022.

I am deeply passionate about this team and regret my behavior on Sunday. I should have let NFL stadium security handle any issues that arose,” Tepper said in a statement. “I respect the NFL’s code of conduct and accept the League’s discipline for my behavior.”

After Tepper passed on removing Steve Wilks‘ interim tag, he assembled a staff that appeared to pull Young in different directions. Questions about which staffers have Tepper’s ear have also arisen during a turbulent Panthers season, one that has already clinched the Bears the 2024 No. 1 overall pick. Carolina axed QBs coach Josh McCown and running backs coach Duce Staley, reinstalling OC Thomas Brown as the play-caller — after Reich had reclaimed the reins — and giving Jim Caldwell more power. The Panthers have been unable to turn their season around, carrying a minus-171 point differential into Week 18. One more Carolina loss would match the 2001 squad for the most in a season in team history.

The Panthers are seeking another offense-oriented HC and preparing to make an aggressive push to hire Lions OC Ben Johnson, who spurned the team in 2023. It seems likely the next Carolina HC will be well-paid, due to Tepper’s wealth and the blows his reputation has sustained, but will they be able to compete with other HC-needy teams given the state of the franchise?

Latest On Panthers’ Organizational Dysfunction

The firing of former Panthers head coach Frank Reich was not a spur of the moment decision. Team owner David Tepper had been forming the basis for this decision for weeks before finally pulling the trigger. Joseph Person and Dianna Russini spoke with several players and staff within the organization, some under the guise of anonymity, about the state of the organization and revealed a number of headline-worthy comments.

First off was the confirmation of rumors that the team’s poor offensive performance contributed heavily to Reich’s exit. In addition to serving as head coach, Reich also called offensive plays for Carolina. He ceded play-calling duties to first year offensive coordinator Thomas Brown for three games before retaking the responsibility, but nothing seemed to help their struggling rookie quarterback, Bryce Young, and Reich’s decision to take back that role reportedly caused some division within the staff.

In 11 starts so far this year, Young is averaging fewer than 200 passing yards per game. and has thrown only nine touchdowns to nine interceptions. The offense has struggled as a whole, ranking 29th in points scored and 30th in yards gained. Their struggles have been fairly balanced with the team ranking 30th in passing yards and 26th in rushing.

One take, per Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, is that the Panthers’ attack was simply too complicated for the rookie passer. Reich brought in assistant coaches from many backgrounds. When he was let go, quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and running backs coach Duce Staley were also let go, due to their heavy influence on the offense. Between Reich’s plan from his Philadelphia days, Brown’s scheme from Los Angeles, and the input from McCown and Staley, there were simply too many cooks in the kitchen. The plan post-Reich has been to streamline the offense in order to make it a bit more digestible for Young.

Additionally, there seemed to be a disconnect within the coaching staff. As we recently reported, there were seemingly attempts within the coaching staff to get Young benched in favor of a veteran like backup quarterback Andy Dalton. Such attempts reportedly never reached Reich or general manager Scott Fitterer. This may have been a result of several Panthers staffers communicating directly with Tepper behind Reich’s back. With the writing on the wall for Reich, several assistants reportedly went into self-preservation mode in an attempt to not go down with the captain of the ship.

Tepper really attempted to be hands-on this season. After firing Matt Rhule, Tepper sold a thorough coaching search (despite some rumors pointing to a foregone conclusion when Carolina hired Reich’s daughter hours after the 2022 season ended). After “eventually” landing on Reich, Tepper reportedly implored his new head coach to hire assistants outside of his normal coaching circle, suggesting that Reich retain special teams coordinator Chris Tabor and offensive line coach James Campen. Tepper even instructed Reich to fix Young’s footwork, though this may have been prompted by another coach or even Fitterer.

With Reich in the past, there have been several names rumored to be in contention to replace him. Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is a popular pick after he was heavily considered in the offseason before withdrawing his name from consideration to stay in Detroit. But Carolina isn’t necessarily selling out for Johnson. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, sources have the Panthers on the lookout for a “young offensive coach” to replace Reich.

Johnson does fit that mold at the age of 37, but Eagles 36-year-old offensive coordinator Brian Johnson will be popular this offseason, as well. Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, at 36 years old, has already shown what he can do with the development of a rookie quarterback after working with both Brock Purdy in 2022 and C.J. Stroud this year, though he remains close to DeMeco Ryans, who brought him over from San Francisco. Lastly, Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith is a bit older at 42 years old but is still a rising name in the NFL after Miami’s offensive development in the past two years.

While they might not love what’s been put on the field thus far, the Panthers also still have Brown on the offensive staff after he was considered a head coaching candidate in the offseason. Brown was also considered an up-and-coming offensive mind coming out of Los Angeles last year. Regardless, Tepper will need to really do his homework this time around if he wants to author a strong reply to this year’s dismal performance.

Panthers Likely To Make Aggressive Ben Johnson Pursuit; Team Considered Benching Bryce Young?

The Panthers made a push to hire Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson this offseason, but the rising play-caller withdrew his name from consideration for that job or other HC positions. Despite Johnson turning down the Panthers in January, the team will be prepared to see if it can change the second-year OC’s mind.

Rumored to once again be targeting a coach with an offensive background, the Panthers will have their sights set on Johnson. Following the quick Frank Reich ouster, the Panthers look to be more interested in Johnson than they were earlier this year, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes.

Some around the NFL are convinced David Tepper will up the ante for the Detroit OC, La Canfora adds. Tepper’s increasingly polarizing reputation aside, the Panthers owner’s net worth sits behind only the Walton family in Denver among. Tepper made the comment about no salary cap being in place for coaches this offseason, when he added Ejiro Evero, Thomas Brown, Jim Caldwell, Josh McCown and Dom Capers to Reich’s staff.

But Johnson is on track to be a coveted commodity on the 2024 HC carousel. The Chargers have been linked to him as well, and he is expected to be interested in coaching Justin Herbert — a position expected to become available with Brandon Staley struggling in his third season — in 2024. Tepper’s reputation for impulsive decisions and meddling is also expected to make this search more complicated than those to replace Ron Rivera and Matt Rhule.

Tepper’s willingness to spend for coaches, as evidenced by Rhule’s seven-year deal worth $62MM, could certainly matter to a point. And a GM informed La Canfora the owner may be willing to keep GM Scott Fitterer on to help lure Johnson to Charlotte. Viewed as a GM not insistent on playing the lead role in personnel, Fitterer — who indeed operated as second-in-command during Rhule’s run — does not have experience working with Johnson. The latter has been with the Lions since 2019; he spent the previous seven years with the Dolphins.

It would certainly be interesting for the Panthers to keep a GM on staff in hopes he can lure a promising HC to town, and it would not exactly reflect well on the team’s situation for Johnson to turn the club down twice. Tepper hired Fitterer to work alongside Rhule, but a report last month suggested he joined Reich on the hot seat. With the Panthers starting 1-11, Fitterer receiving a fourth season in the GM chair might be a tough sell. But the Panthers are in an unusual spot, seeing their owner become the center of attention during this run of inconsistency on the sideline and at the quarterback position.

On the latter front, Bryce Young has continued to struggle, doing so as No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud has separated himself in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. Tepper attempted to insist the Panthers were in full agreement regarding Young over Stroud, but the 5-foot-10 passer did not receive a good draw in Year 1. The Panthers have lost both starting guards for the season, and free agency additions Miles Sanders and Hayden Hurst — each securing the most guaranteed money at their respective positions this offseason — have not moved the needle much. These signings, of course, came after the Panthers included longtime No. 1 wide receiver D.J. Moore in the trade for the No. 1 pick.

Young’s rookie-year issues were evident early to some on staff, as The Athletic’s Dianna Russini adds multiple coaches on staff wanted to bench the former Heisman winner by Week 5 (subscription required). Viewing Young as requiring more coaching before he could be relied upon as a weekly starter, these coaches were ultimately overruled by a Panthers vision that placed a higher priority on long-term Young development rather than potential 2023 wins with Andy Dalton at the helm. The Panthers fired both McCown and running backs coach Duce Staley. Parks Frazier, who rose from assistant Colts QBs coach to offensive coordinator in the wake of Reich’s 2022 firing, is now coaching the Panthers’ QBs, the Charlotte Observer’s Mike Kaye tweets.

It is not known if McCown and Staley backed a Young benching, but Tepper has attempted to drive home the notion the staff was in agreement on the Alabama prospect. Reich was connected to being pro-Stroud early in the pre-draft process, though he said post-draft he was in alignment with Panthers scouts on Young. The Panthers remain hopeful regarding Young’s development, with one team staffer (via Russini) citing the shortcomings of the team’s offensive pieces around him.

Circling back to Reich, La Canfora offers one of the reasons Tepper cut the cord so early was the veteran coach’s lower-key demeanor. Reich, 61, is not known as an intense leader. Reich’s measured approach came up against two outspoken owners during his HC career, with Jim Irsay becoming increasingly involved as the former Super Bowl-winning OC’s Colts run progressed. Reich signed a four-year contract. While Rhule’s Nebraska contract moved the Panthers off the hook for much of the money remaining on his NFL contract, via offset language, Reich said he is likely headed toward retirement. In that event, the Panthers will be paying their former HC through 2026.

Latest On Panthers’ HC, GM Positions

Consistent with a report that surfaced in the immediate aftermath of head coach Frank Reich‘s dismissal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com says that the Panthers will be targeting an offensive-minded coach when they conduct a search for Reich’s full-time replacement this offseason. Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson — who had emerged as the frontrunner for the Carolina HC post during the 2023 hiring cycle before he withdrew his name from consideration — is likely to be on owner David Tepper‘s short list once again, per Schefter. Ditto Eagles OC Brian Johnson.

Schefter’s ESPN colleague, Dan Graziano, agrees that Tepper’s search will lean towards a coach with an offensive background given the franchise’s investment in Bryce Young (subscription required). However, both Graziano and fellow ESPN scribe Jeremy Fowler believe that a candidate’s leadership abilities could be more critical than their offensive acumen. After all, new Texans HC DeMeco Ryans is a defensive-oriented coach, but his club — guided by rookie QB C.J. Stroud — boasts one of the league’s most prolific offenses. Likewise, the defensive-minded Steve Wilks led the Panthers to a 6-6 finish as interim head coach in 2022, but Tepper elected to move on from Wilks and chose not to aggressively pursue Ryans.

Regardless of which qualities Tepper prioritizes in the upcoming cycle, it remains to be seen if he will be able to land his top choice, thanks to his growing reputation as an impatient and meddlesome owner. According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Tepper’s comments at a press conference in the wake of Reich’s firing will not help his cause.

During that presser, Tepper noted that the decision to select Young over Stroud in the 2023 draft was unanimous, though Florio finds that hard to believe. That is not because he is looking at the matter through a revisionist lens skewed by the two players’ performances in their rookie campaigns, but rather because the sheer number of people involved in such a franchise-defining choice is almost guaranteed to generate contrasting viewpoints. So even though Tepper says the call was unanimous, Florio believes the reality is that any Stroud supporters realized that Tepper preferred Young and ultimately chose to side with their employer.

Indeed, while all owners natually have the power to veto any decisions made by their staff, Tepper drove that point home when reporters asked him about the Young-Stroud issue.

“The process was done the way the process was done,” Tepper said. “And again, even though if there was a process with five people in the room and the way the votes came in it was Frank was the first choice [as head coach], I always could veto that choice. And even if [it[ was Bryce [as the first overall pick] and the votes came in unanimously in this particular case, I could have vetoed that choice.”

In Florio’s view, the fact that Tepper openly avowed that he wields veto power even if there is unanimity among his football staff is telling. It also underscores his willingness to meddle, which could drive away candidates that might otherwise be interested in the Carolina HC gig. Dianna Russini of The Athletic, who says that Stroud’s success was a key factor in Tepper’s decision to fire Reich, also reports that some members of the organization have been texting Ben Johnson to tell him how “complicated” it is to work for the Panthers at the moment (subscription required).

Another high-profile target is Jim Harbaugh, but as Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda recently observed, Tepper’s propensity to drive decision-making obviously would not be appealing to a candidate like Harbaugh, who will likely want a high degree of autonomy over football operations. Plus, as a source told Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, “[Harbaugh’s] just as mercurial as Tepper. You want a coach that way, too?”

That said, other sources have told Jones that Harbaugh is a legitimate candidate for the job. While Harbaugh and Tepper did speak about the position in late December 2022/early January 2023, that conversation did not evolve into an interview. According to Jones, Tepper — who had recently fired Matt Rhule — did not want another coach who ran the entire football operation, but it sounds as if he may be more amenable to a Harbaugh hire this time around. And no matter how Tepper may be perceived around the league, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports makes it clear that there will be plenty of coaches who will want the Panthers’ post (video link).

Of course, there may be a new voice in Tepper’s ear when the calendar flips to 2024. GM Scott Fitterer is reportedly on the hot seat, and while Schefter reports that Carolina may prefer to retain him, he has been given no assurances about his future with the club.

Bill Belichick Candidate For Panthers HC Job?

Since buying the Panthers in 2018, David Tepper has employed six head coaches (including interims). So, with the organization eyeing a replacement for the recently-fired Frank Reich, Tepper surely wants his new hire to stick. So, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the Panthers are already connected to the biggest potential name on the HC market.

[RELATED: Panthers Fire HC Frank Reich]

League sources told Chad Finn of the Boston Globe that the Panthers are a team to watch in the upcoming Bill Belichick sweepstakes. The iconic head coach could see his illustrious tenure with the Patriots come to an end following the season, and while Robert Kraft and co. could hold out for trade compensation, Belichick will likely have a say in his next landing spot.

Since most teams would surely welcome in one of the greatest head coaches of all time, you would figure the lowly (and tumultuous) Panthers would be hard pressed to recruit Belichick. However, Finn notes that there are a number of factors that could draw the 71-year-old to Carolina.

For starters, the smaller media market means the curmudgeonly Belichick wouldn’t have to deal with the same headaches caused by the Boston media. Next, the coach would be “far away” from the Patriots and the AFC East, and the Panthers aren’t scheduled to take on New England until the 2025 campaign. Belichick would also be closer to his home in Florida, where he likes to spend parts of the offseason.

Of course, financials could also convince Belichick to join the Panthers. Tepper is the third-richest owner in the NFL, meaning he’d be able to pay Belichick while also spend on a pricey roster. Plus, considering general manager Scott Fitterer‘s uncertain future with the organization, Belichick would probably have carte blanche to run the front office as he wishes.

From the Panthers perspective, a Belichick hire would run counter to recent reports that the organization was eyeing more of an offensive-minded coach. Further, Tepper made it clear that he wants his next coach to be with the organization for the long haul. While Belichick might still have a few years left in the tank, the Panthers would be foolish to expect a long-term commitment from the coach.

Belichick will be one of many coaches connected to the Panthers gig once the season comes to an end. For what it’s worth, interim head coach Chris Tabor might not be included in that grouping of candidates. Tabor told reporters that he was given no assurances that he’ll be considered for the full-time job (per ESPN’s David Newton).