4 factors that make Carolina Panthers 2023 offseason the most important

(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Steve Wilks /

Carolina Panthers can’t afford to appoint the wrong head coach

At the time of writing, the Carolina Panthers are without a head coach and have no real inclination as to which direction the brass is leaning toward, other than reports that David Tepper has his eyes on an offensive-minded figurehead.

Nicole Tepper will also be immediately involved in the coaching search and hiring process, despite not having completed the required night school prerequisite courses, initially.

Steve Wilks did enough, in my opinion, to earn a shot at head coach should the owner offer it to him. It’s a validated and worthwhile hire.

Wilks is a leader and has proven his identity as a coach, though that part instills slightly less confidence than his contagious fervor. I also believe it’s part of the new NFL fabric to look towards innovative offensive leadership and I wouldn’t fault the decision-makers if they extend the job to any of Shane Steichen, Ken Dorsey, Frank Reich, or Mike Kafka.

Each candidate is intriguing and has earned the interview, at least. However, the elephant in the room is Sean Payton.

Bountygate aside  – which, objectively, is difficult to do – Payton has very strong credentials and shiny hardware to go along with it. He’s widely considered the hottest available commodity in the coaching world but also comes with an insane asking price.

I’m not only speaking to the $20-$25 million annual salary he’s reportedly looking for. The Panthers would have to trade draft capital to the division rival New Orleans Saints which could cost at least one first-round selection.

The fans and players support Wilks. The NFL world might be enamored with the idea of Payton developing his offense to go along with Carolina’s impressive young defense, but offensive minds are a home run swing with a higher strikeout possibility.