Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales came the team last offseason as an unknown to many when he was hired to lead a Tom Brady-less offense. One season later, Canales is being considered as a head coaching candidate within league circles after resurrecting Baker Mayfield’s career and bringing the Bucs offense to life.
The Carolina Panthers are a team going through the motion of hiring their next head coach. Canales is a strong candidate as they are reportedly conducting a second interview Wednesday in person with the 42-year-old. Making things even more interesting is the fact the Panthers looked within their organization to name Dan Morgan their general manager. Morgan was with Seattle from 2015-2017 as Director of Pro Personnel — a period of time Canales was also with the Seahawks as wide receivers coach.
Many are connecting the dots, suggesting it’s all but a done deal for Canales to be named the next head coach of Carolina. But not so fast.
Joe Person of The Athletic, who covers the Panthers exclusively, was on SiriusXM NFL Radio to discuss the hire of Morgan as the Panthers general manager. As he discussed the Panthers coaching search, he stated that Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is still their top choice.
“I still think Ben Johnson is their top target and I know they may not be the only team that has Ben Johnson on the top of their list,” Person said on ‘Late Hits’ Monday night. “This is a guy that just a year ago [Panthers Owner] David Tepper was very high on Ben Johnson. Johnson interviewed with the Texans and ended up pulling out of consideration here in Carolina and everywhere and stayed in Detroit. His star has only grown brighter as the Lions make this historic run — at least historic for their franchise. So the Panthers will have to wait until Monday, and I really believe they will. I don’t think they are in a rush, if they feel they can take their best shot and see if they can hire Ben Johnson.
“I do believe Ben Johnson is their top choice.”
Person added that the team was hoping to bring in Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan. However, Callahan was hired by Tennessee to be the next head coach of the Titans. He also stated the team will go through the process, acknowledging the interest in Canales as well as former Bucs head coach and current Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris before ultimately reiterating the team’s heavy interest in Johnson due to Tepper’s apparent admiration for Detroit’s offensive coordinator.
Before closing out the conversation of the coaching search, Person said a name to keep an eye on is former Atlanta Falcons head coach and current Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn has ties to Morgan as well due to their time in Seattle, like Canales.
We’ll surely know more next week once Carolina is allowed to interview Johnson. But until then, those in and out of the Buccaneers can breathe somewhat easier knowing that Canales has a chance at sticking around in Tampa Bay for at least another season.