“Outside the box” coaching hire isn’t out of the question in Carolina

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Panthers owner David Tepper’s first significant imprint on the team could be an intriguing one.

Per a source with knowledge of the team’s plan, an “outside the box” coaching hire isn’t out of the question in Carolina. While that’s a broad statement that seemingly would encompass any hiring beyond the conventional universe of candidates ( offensive/defensive coordinator with no head-coaching experience, former NFL head coach, college head coach), the acknowledgement of an outside-the-box move came in direct response to the question of whether the Panthers would pursue a coach who currently serves as the head coach of another team.

Under league rules, that’s permissible. The formal procedure entails the team contacting the coach’s current team, expressing an interest in hiring him, and engaging in negotiations regarding compensation (if, of course, the coach’s current team doesn’t hang up the phone). If an agreement on compensation is reached, the team hoping to hire the coach then may discuss the subject directly with him.

As a practical matter, the pieces fall into place via conversations that never officially happened, with the team learning that the coach would like to make the move, with the coach learning what the team would pay, and with the team determining whether the coach’s current team would be receptive to a formal attempt to hire the coach, if a formal attempt were made.

It rarely happens; the most significant example came in 2002, when the Bucs hired Jon Gruden from the Raiders for two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and $8 million in cash. If it were to happen again, it definitely would be regarded as outside the box.

If that’s the direction in which the Panthers go, the most obvious candidate would be Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. Although Tomlin arguably has done the best coaching of his career this season, Tepper, a multi-billionaire and former Steelers minority owner) may be willing to pay Tomlin much more than the Steelers ever would — and Tepper may be willing to replace the first-round pick the Steelers gave up for Minkah Fitzpatrick, and then some.

Remember when Tomlin’s name came up in connection with the Washington vacancy and, when asked bout it, he didn’t shout it down conclusively and completely? If nothing else, real interest in Tomlin from teams like Carolina and Washington becomes significant leverage in his dealings with the Steelers, where some minority owners reportedly wanted him out after the 2017 season and reportedly didn’t want him to get an extension through 2021, with a team option for 2022. (Tepper was among the minority owners until he bought the Panthers in 2018.)

Making an effort to hire Tomlin even more plausible (or less implausible) is the weekend report from ESPN.com that some around the league believe that Tepper will try to hire Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert and/or Steelers V.P. of football business and administration Omar Khan. Colbert’s contract runs through the 2020 draft; Khan’s contract status isn’t currently known.

However it plays out, the timeline is expected to commence with the hiring of a coach, followed by the hiring of an executive V.P. of football operations. Soon enough, we’ll learn whether Tepper will be trying to turn flip black and gold to black and blue.

He definitely has enough green to do it.

25 responses to ““Outside the box” coaching hire isn’t out of the question in Carolina

  1. Making a run at Mike Tomlin is “outside the box?” He’s an experienced and successful NFL head coach. Going after Dabo Swinney would be outside the box.

  2. New Head Coach of the Panthers odds:

    Jim Harbaugh +300
    Jason Garrett +500
    Josh McDaniels +550
    Dan Quinn +600
    Urban Meyer +600
    Greg Roman +1200
    Mike LaFleur +1200
    Jay Gruden +1400
    Doug Marrone +1600
    Pat Shurmur +1800
    Doug Pederson +2000
    Bill Cowher +10000

    No Eric Bieniemy??? How about The Chin coming home to Carolina at +10000.

  3. Plot twist: The Steelers then hire Riverboat Ron and fleece the Panthers out of picks!

  4. That’s about the most conservative definition of “outside the box” I have ever seen. I was thinking “promoting position coach” or “college coordinator” more than “guy who is already an NFL head coach.” And what would be the appeal of the Panthers to a guy who already is coaching an NFL team?

  5. Tepper has stated he wants an offensive background in his HC. He would prefer a good young coach and it that coach could from the pros or college. That hardly Tomlin. Then I guess owners can change their mind or put simply lie his his desire to hide the truth.

  6. Great to hear as a Bucs fan. Texas Tech was pretty bad this year and their coach looks to be in pretty good physical shape. That should make him a top NFL candidate. Go get him Panthers.

  7. I wonder why all of these coaches dislike Mike Tomlin. He’s done nothing but win at a higher percentage than every coach in the NFL except Belichick. Has averaged at least 10 wins per year. And is seemingly headed to 10 more wins this year. After losing his HOF QB, 2 pro bowl WRs, and a pro bowl RB. He’s winning with his 4th string QB. I know some franchises who would kill for 10 wins a year.

  8. If Tepper learned anything about head coaches at the Steelers it is to hire a great young coaching talent and let him coach the team for fifteen or twenty years.

    Hate to call Tomlin a retread, but the Panthers hiring him as their head coach is less like the Steelers, more like the Dolphins, Redskins, Buccaneers, etc.

  9. Trade Tomlin to Carolina for 2 #1’s 3#2’s and 5 million cash . Steelers call the chin back and see what he can do ?

  10. I think the Rooney’s would have a right to be pretty annoyed if a guy they brought into the NFL ownership ranks turned around and raided their head office ranks. Paint a picture of Tepper wouldn’t it.

  11. Tepper certainly comes off as the type of guy who might at least attempt to do something screwy with a head coaching hire. Claiming that firing Rivera during the season was actually a sign of deep respect because it eliminated the need to initiate a coaching search behind his back is disingenuous nonsense meant to appease the gullible, but we’ll see where this goes.

  12. Where do you find a candidate that knows high end football as well as odds of employment length predicated on HEDGE FUND success vs won/loss records in the NFL
    Just sayin!!!

  13. Tomlin is definitely outside the box. Most owners want a coach whose career is ascending. Every since the Steelers got stomped by Green Bay, they’ve been descending. Tebowed out of the playoffs. Humiliated at home by Joe Flacco. Trampled by Brady and Manning, even Bortles and last year, no playoffs for you! Come back one year! The team that seemed to have a guaranteed slot in the post season every year is now forced to grovel just for a shot at the 6th seed and even that is a pipe dream.

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