Ben Johnson hype train shows no signs of slowing as Carolina Panthers bid looms

Where there's smoke, there's normally fire...

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The hype continues to build surrounding the Carolina Panthers potentially making a bold bid for head coaching candidate Ben Johnson.

After covering himself in disgrace, David Tepper needs to knock this offseason out of the park. The Carolina Panthers are in complete shambles thanks in no small part to his suspect ownership. It seems as if priority No. 1 has already been identified.

There's no doubt Ben Johnson is going to be a hot commodity during the upcoming head coaching cycle. He turned down advances last year - including from the Panthers. He's also done nothing but enhance his reputation after playing a significant role in the Detroit Lions' first-ever NFC North championship.

Ben Johnson is reportedly the Carolina Panthers' top target

The rumors are swirling about Carolina going back for Johnson as a matter of urgency when permitted. Adam Caplan from Pro Football Network became the latest to state he's the Panthers' top target above all else as Tepper looks to finally get his man.

"[Ben] Johnson came into the season as the unquestioned top head coaching candidate, and he remains that guy. He’ll be the top candidate on the Carolina Panthers list, sources said, for the second straight year among many teams that will want to talk to him. Whether it’s his outstanding work with veteran QB Jared Goff or his offensive scheme and play-calling, other teams have raved about Johnson’s work with the Detroit Lions over the past two seasons. While he’s pretty young (38 in May), sources who have worked with Johnson over the years say he’s wise beyond his years and is ready to lead a team."

Adam Caplan, Pro Football Network
Carolina Panthers
Ben Johnson / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Much has been made about Johnson's connections to the area as a selling point. This is also the chance to work with a potential franchise quarterback - Bryce Young. Although things haven't gone according to plan for the No. 1 pick this season, molding an offense around his undoubted skill set could be a tempting proposition.

The Panthers cannot get caught short. They must form contingency plans. Those in power cannot interview candidates in the playoffs until January 22. Tepper must cast his net far and wide before turning to his best-case option.

After everything that's happened over the last week, one has to wonder whether Johnson will want to bet his flourishing reputation on the Panthers. Tepper is erratic, irrational, impulsive, and everything in between. He's being tabbed as the league's worst owner with Dan Snyder no longer around. That should be enough for anyone to think twice - let alone a progressive figure who could have more than one option on the table.

It's a hard sell. Money talks, obviously. But for someone like Johnson, he'll need a lot more than just a whopping annual salary to take on such a big project with a meddling owner potentially complicating matters.

If someone like the Los Angeles Chargers or Washington Commanders came calling, one would anticipate Johnson going elsewhere. Nothing can be ruled out - especially given Tepper's desire to get whatever he wants no matter the cost. At the time time, his petulant behavior could be enough to put people off from even taking an interview.

Time will tell. However, this offseason has to go well for the Panthers and their incompetent owner. Otherwise, more years of misery await.