There’s yet another sign that Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper won’t attempt to land New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick this offseason after Tepper fired Frank Reich on Nov. 27.
For a piece published Wednesday, NFL insider Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported that he has “talked to people around the league who believe the Panthers will go with a young offensive coach for their next head coach.”
Specifically, Fowler named Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson (37), Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brian Johnson (36), Houston Texans coordinator Bobby Slowik (36) and Miami Dolphins coordinator Frank Smith (42) as potential candidates for the full-time Carolina gig.
Ben Volin of the Boston Globe and former Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton previously linked Belichick with the Carolina opening amid numerous rumors suggesting that Patriots owner Robert Kraft will want to go in a different direction this winter with his team at 2-10. Volin mentioned that “Carolina is a short flight to Belichick’s homes in Nantucket and Florida.” Volin also pointed out that Tepper is “a $20B hedge fund manager who could pay Belichick handsomely and easily cut a check to make any upgrades to the organization that Belichick deems necessary.”
Charlotte Observer columnist Scott Fowler later predicted that Tepper will ultimately choose a “typical hotshot young offensive coordinator” to try to get the most out of quarterback Bryce Young, the first overall pick of this year’s draft. Jeremy Fowler indicated Scott Fowler will be proved right.
“There would be a level of shock in some league circles if owner David Tepper did not go offense,” Jeremy Fowler continued on Wednesday.
According to ESPN stats, Young enters Week 14 ranked 28th in the NFL out of 29 qualified players with a 31.4 adjusted QBR on the season. Tepper nevertheless seems committed to backing Young through at least another campaign, and it’s unclear if Belichick would have any interest in coaching the 22-year-old.
Detroit’s Ben Johnson has reportedly already been warned by some within the Panthers “about how complicated it has been” working for the organization this season. That claim emerged before Joseph Person and Dianna Russini of The Athletic touched upon the “Hunger Games” culture that allegedly involved some Carolina staff members “text messaging Tepper behind Reich’s back about issues they saw with the team.”
It’s difficult to imagine Belichick, who turns 72 in April 2024, tolerating such a work environment at this stage of his life for any amount of money.