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Panthers hire Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales as next head coach

The new leader of the Carolina Panthers won't even have to leave the division to start his new job.

Carolina is expected to hire Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales as its new head coach, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Thursday. The team made the hiring official on Thursday evening. 

"Dave's background is rooted in success," Panthers owner David Tepper said in a statement issued through the team. "He has an innovative mindset and positive energy that connects well with players and staff. We are impressed with his ability to bring out the best in players."

With Canales' hiring, the Panthers' revamp is underway as the new head coach reunites with recently hired Carolina general manager/president of football operations Dan Morgan. Morgan was with the Seattle Seahawks from 2010 through 2017, working in pro personnel, while Canales spent 2010 through 2022 in the Emerald City as an offensive assistant. 

"I'm excited to work alongside Dave again," Morgan said. "His background coaching multiple position groups has given him a great understanding of what it takes to build a successful team. His infectious personality resonates with players and everyone who comes in contact with him. I'm confident that will translate to the field."

It is expected Canales will be the team's play-caller and that he and Morgan will report directly to Tepper, according to the team's announcement.

Canales' move from Tampa, Florida, to Charlotte, North Carolina, caps a meteoric rise in just a calendar year, a 12-month span in which he jumped from Seahawks quarterbacks coach to Buccaneers OC, and now, to head coach of a Panthers team in need of direction.

"Excited for what's to come but right now just thankful for my time with the Buccaneers," Canales tweeted on Thursday night. "Amazing fans and organization. Thanks to Coach [Todd] Bowles, the staff and the amazing players that I was honored to work with! I'll be rootin for ya 15 weeks out of the year! Thank You!!!"

The hiring makes plenty of logical sense for a club seeking a steady guide for quarterback Bryce Young. The former No. 1 overall pick did not progress in his first season, which ended up being a nightmarish campaign in which Carolina fired Young's coach, Frank Reich, midway through his first year.

While Young struggled, Canales made magic with the reclamation project that was Baker Mayfield in 2023, guiding the quarterback to the best season of his career, a wild-card win and an appearance in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs. Carolina seems to be hiring Canales with the hopes he can do the same with Young, a quarterback for whom the Panthers gave up plenty of capital and watched finish last in passing yards per attempt and passer rating as a rookie.

The 42-year-old Canales, who has become the fifth Hispanic head coach in NFL history, brings 14 seasons of NFL coaching experience to Charlotte, where he'll oversee an entire team for the first time in his career. He owns a championship-winning pedigree, helping Seattle win Super Bowl XLVIII as assistant quarterbacks coach for former Seahawks star signal-caller Russell Wilson, but will be tested under a much brighter spotlight as Panthers owner David Tepper's latest choice to lead his struggling franchise.

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