Fresh hope emerges in Carolina Panthers upcoming quest for Ben Johnson

Could things be looking up?

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

An insider report brought fresh hope that the Carolina Panthers could succeed in their quest to make Ben Johnson their next head coach.

The fact David Tepper is about to enter his third head coaching cycle since becoming Carolina Panthers owner represents a damning indictment of his decision-making. He could go a long way to appeasing a frustrated fanbase by making Ben Johnson an offer he cannot refuse.

Johnson is arguably the hottest name around right now. His innovative offensive concepts and ability to maximize the primary playmakers on the Detroit Lions helped Dan Campbell's men secure the NFC North for the first time in franchise history. It's also elevated his reputation significantly in pursuit of securing a top job elsewhere in 2024.

Ben Johnson reportedly interested in Carolina Panthers job

It's no secret that the Panthers plan to make a bold bid for Johnson in the coming weeks. According to Dianna Russini of The Athletic, the progressive play-caller is open to the idea of taking on the project. As for general manager Scott Fitterer? His future is less clear.

"Owner David Tepper is going to try again for Ben Johnson, according to a league source. The play-caller is open to the job and will also be meeting with other teams that are expected to show interest, the source said. There’s a sense around the league that general manager Scott Fitterer may help with some of the transition but still may not be safe in his job. Carolina could be starting anew."

Dianna Russini, The Athletic

Tepper isn't been well-perceived around the league after his latest act of petulance at the Jacksonville Jaguars. If he could pull off the heist of a lifetime by convincing Johnson to come on board, he'll start winning back the fans.

Johnson isn't going to be short of interest. He'll have options with a few intriguing openings currently or set to become available. It'll take a lot of convincing and perhaps some concessions from Tepper's perspective to stay out of the way.

Carolina Panthers
Ben Johnson / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Considering the report surfacing about Tepper's refusal to relinquish power for a proven winner such as Jim Harbaugh, it could go either way. Keeping Fitterer around is another potential complication that cannot be overlooked as part of Carolina's plans for future growth.

There's just no telling what appointing Johnson will do for morale. Things are at an all-time low currently. Hiring the league's brightest up-and-coming coordinator would completely shift the landscape.

That's just stage one of a critical offseason. Many important decisions need to be made regarding the staffing infrastructure in Carolina. Established players need extending. Almost every position group needs strengthening. A new offensive scheme is of great importance as the Panthers look to enhance Bryce Young's chances of becoming the franchise quarterback they envisaged.

While most analysts and former players are deeming Tepper's influence too toxic for any incoming head coaching candidate, Russini's report suggests all hope might not be lost. Even though the billionaire is still shelling out for the contracts of Frank Reich and Matt Rhule, that won't prevent him from providing Johnson with generational wealth to further sweeten the pot.

Carolina would be wise not to put all their eggs in one basket during their search for a new head coach. Getting stuck on the back foot is how they ended up with Reich after Johnson spurned everyone's advances to remain with the Lions last year. The same cannot happen again this time around.

Even if their primary target is becoming clearer with every passing day.