Ben Johnson’s Carolina Panthers snub paves the way for Sean Payton

(Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports) Sean Payton
(Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports) Sean Payton /

Ben Johnson’s decision to snub interest from the Carolina Panthers paves the way for the potential appointment of Sean Payton.

Despite many leading insiders stating Ben Johnson was the frontrunner, the progressive offensive mind opted to pull out of his Wednesday meeting with the Carolina Panthers. Instead, he will remain with the Detroit Lions in the hope they can build on an encouraging second half of 2022.

This is a blow to the Panthers. Something that throws a wrench into their plans and especially if team owner David Tepper was enamored by Johnson’s credentials as Joe Person of The Athletic suggested.

Of course, this enhances the chances of Steve Wilks winning the job long-term after impressing on an interim basis. According to Sheena Quick of Fox Sports Radio 1340, Frank Reich also interviewed strongly and is another possibility after his unceremonious departure from the Indianapolis Colts.

However, there is now a significant wildcard that cannot be ignored. One that would send shockwaves throughout the entire NFL if Tepper pulls it off.

Ben Johnson’s snub paves the way for Carolina Panthers to appoint Sean Payton

The Panthers received permission from the New Orleans Saints to speak with Sean Payton, who revealed the meeting will take place in New York later this week. Now that Johnson is out of the equation, it paves the way for Tepper to make another bold move in pursuit of finally getting Carolina relevant and into contention once again.

This is a divisive topic among fans. Nothing to do with Payton’s credentials, obviously – it’s giving New Orleans a first-round pick and more than supporters are having trouble with.

Payton himself declared to Colin Cowherd that the compensation would be a mid-to-late first-rounder. Considering the Panthers and Saints are divisional rivals, the package might be steeper for the Super Bowl winner to remain in the NFC South.

Tepper won’t hesitate if Payton gets his attention. Something that was discussed by Roman Harper – an ex-player and good friend of the coach – who revealed on the Kyle Bailey Club that this once inconceivable notion is now likelier than ever.

"“Sean Payton will probably blow David Tepper’s mind away. And up until yesterday—obviously there’s no way Sean Payton ends up with the Carolina Panthers. No way. But now, I’ve completely changed. I think, if I’m [Saints general manager] Mickey Loomis, I make the trade.”"

Johnson will get substantial interest during the next head coaching cycle if the coordinator continues his outstanding rise. This doesn’t help the Panthers, who need to find the right guy in the near future after Matt Rhule’s disappointing stint as head coach mercifully came to an end.

Giving up draft capital for Payton is a risk. But this is nothing like the gamble Tepper made when he allocated $62 million and full roster control to tempt Rhule from the college ranks.

This is a proven winner, a bright offensive mind, and a respected leader. Payton also ticks every box regarding what Tepper reportedly wants in his next head coach.

Whether Johnson made the right decision or not is a moot point from Carolina’s perspective. What’s important for those in power is getting in someone that can immediately take this talented roster to heights not seen since the mid-2010s.

Wilks, Reich, and Payton are the three most likely to assume command, one suspects. And we might not have to wait that much longer before a final conclusion is confirmed.

Must Read. 4 pros and cons to the Carolina Panthers hiring Sean Payton. light