It’s official: Panthers hire Dave Canales as new head coach

CHARLOTTE — It’s official. The Carolina Panthers have selected their new head coach, the team announced Thursday night.

The team has agreed on a deal with Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales.

Canales signed a six-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Canales replaces Frank Reich, who was fired earlier in the season. The Panthers finished their season with a 2-15 record, tying a franchise record for the most losses in a single season.

Reich was in his first season with the Panthers, and his firing echoed a similar refrain -- Reich’s predecessor, Matt Rhule, was also fired before the season ended in 2022.

The news comes just days after the team hired their new general manager. On Monday, the team named Dan Morgan as the president of football operations and general manager. Morgan most recently served as the team’s assistant general manager, serving in that role since 2021.

Morgan replaced Scott Fitterer, who was fired earlier this month after three seasons with the team.

Here’s what it means

Canales may not have the name recognition of some of the other high-profile coaching candidates available this hiring cycle, but he certainly has the pedigree. He had a hand in the turnaround of quarterback Geno Smith in Seattle and Baker Mayfield in Tampa Bay last year.

Now, Canales is tasked with getting Bryce Young back on track after a challenging rookie season. A source close to Young told Channel 9′s Phil Orban that the quarterback is excited about the hire.

Baker Mayfield struggled in Carolina a year ago, going just 1-5 as a starter. But he was a revelation in Tampa and is a finalist for the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year after playing under Canales.

Canales also has a connection to Dan Morgan. The two arrived in Seattle in 2010, with Morgan as a scout and Canales as the wide receivers’ coach. They spent the next eight seasons together.

If the goal is to have the coaching staff and front office work together cohesively and efficiently, that familiarity will certainly help.

As for how Tampa Bay’s players are taking the news, running back Rachaad White tweeted simply “Nooooooo!!!!” It’s a good sign that the division rivals are unhappy about the move.

We now wait for the Panthers to hold the introductory press conference with Canales. That will also let us hear from Morgan for the first time.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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