Ejiro Evero provides Dave Canales with first major home-run hit

The could be huge for Carolina Panthers head coach Dave Canales.

Ejiro Evero
Ejiro Evero / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

Ejiro Evero reportedly staying on as Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator represents the first major home-run hit for head coach Dave Canales.

One of the biggest immediate objectives for new Carolina Panthers head coach Dave Canales was convincing Ejiro Evero that this was a project worth being part of. It seems like he's already accomplished this feat.

While the Panthers didn't meet expectations in 2023, the same doesn't apply to Evero. The defensive coordinator was as advertised, overcoming significant adversity to turn Carolina's unit into a highly productive force. It wasn't perfect, but one could make a case for their performance levels being far better than many envisaged considering all the injuries throughout the campaign.

Carolina Panthers are in good hands with Dave Canales and Ejiro Evero

Canales made no secret of his intent to keep Evero around during his introductory presser. He was in contention for the Seattle Seahawks head coaching job at the time. Now, according to Joe Person of The Athletic, the progressive play-caller will stay on for another season along with most of his staff.

"[Dave] Canales and [Ejiro] Evero are going to get to know each other a lot better. Evero is staying with the Panthers, and most of his defensive staff also is expected to return. The 43-year-old Evero drew strong interest from other teams this hiring cycle after overseeing the league’s fourth-ranked defense in 2023, the second year in a row Evero has directed a top-10 defense. Evero interviewed for three head-coaching vacancies — with the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons and Panthers — and had several teams calling about their defensive coordinator openings. But Evero was under contract with the Panthers after signing a three-year deal for a little more than $9 million in 2023, which put him among the highest-paid defensive coordinators in the league. And in blocking at least three teams’ requests to speak with Ejiro for their DC jobs, the Panthers made it clear they weren’t going to let Evero leave for a lateral move."

Joe Person, The Athletic
Dave Canales has convinced Ejiro Evero to remain with the Carolina Panthers.
Dave Canales / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

This is sensational news for the Panthers. Canales' passion and ambition came across in no uncertain terms when speaking to the media last week. Even the biggest skepticist found it difficult not to buy in. Judging by this report, the first-time head coach has also turned Evero into a believer.

There was speculation that Evero potentially saw his future elsewhere whether he became a head coach or not. The Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers were said to be monitoring developments closely. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated hinted that the coordinator felt like this could have been a better stepping stone in pursuit of a top job.

Carolina was reluctant to allow Evero's departure for another coordinator position. But there seemed little point in keeping him around if he'd expressed a desire to take his chances elsewhere. Thankfully, he seems to have complete faith in Canales' ability to take the Panthers into a prosperous future.

Continuity has been in short supply in Charlotte under David Tepper. Keeping Evero and some high-profile coaches allows them to continue with the development of current players within his creative 3-4 base scheme. Not having to learn another system is also going to do them an untold amount of good.

Now, if Evero gets a long-awaited head coaching job, the Panthers also get a compensatory third-round selection. A win-win for all parties. But it's the fact that Canales got him on board with the program quickly that represents the most exciting thing of all.