Why did the Carolina Panthers promote Dan Morgan?

It's a contentious issue among the fanbase.

Dan Morgan
Dan Morgan / Streeter Lecka/GettyImages
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Is Dan Morgan the right choice for the Carolina Panthers president of football operations/general manager position?

There was a growing belief Dan Morgan was in strong contention for the vacant general manager position left by close associate Scott Fitterer, who was fired after one of the worst seasons in Carolina Panthers franchise history. He is reportedly involved in the head coaching interview process, which was a telling sign. Team owner David Tepper made the move official on Monday evening.

Morgan will hold the new title of president of football operations/general manager moving forward. This is the same approach adopted by consultancy firm Sportsology when they assisted with the San Francisco 49ers' infrastructure. Whether it'll have a similar impact is another matter.

The former linebacker has sound football acumen. He's been around winning organizations before triumphantly returning to Carolina. Morgan is widely revered around the league for his player evaluation nuance. There's a lot to like about the hire from the outside looking in.

Carolina Panthers kept continuity with Dan Morgan

It's also hard to ignore the concerns. Morgan's been an influential figure behind the scenes during the Panthers' inexplicably poor roster construction over the last three years. He's complicit at the very least to Fitterer's failings. That wasn't enough for Tepper to remove the status quo and adopt the hard reset many fans were craving.

How the Panthers got to Morgan is another intriguing element of this discussion. Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports outlined the hiring committee involved with the process. The insider also hinted that Tepper might not be done adding to the front office.

"According to sources, [David] Tepper captained the search for his next GM along with his wife, Nicole, team president Kristi Coleman, Panthers senior assistant coach and longtime NFL head coach Jim Caldwell and Mike Forde, who heads the search firm Sportsology. It's possible Tepper isn't done adding to his front office, sources say. Tepper had a healthy mix of GM candidates in this search with football backgrounds or cap/analytics backgrounds. Back in 2021 before hiring Fitterer, Tepper flirted with the idea of splitting the GM position in two: A CFO of football and a COO of football, according to sources."

Jonathan Jones, CBS Sports

Jim Caldwell being part of the process is an interesting one. It might also provide an insight into why the Panthers went with Morgan over an outside candidate.

Carolina Panthers
Bryce Young and David Tepper / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Young.

The Panthers need to have a consensus belief in the building when it comes to Young. Those who were against the pick or on the fence are probably long gone. Carolina's purpose must be getting the most out of their prized possession while the contract is still cheap. Otherwise, the trade up to No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft will remain one of the worst in league history.

Tepper received ridicule from around the league for choosing Young over C.J. Stroud. The two situations are far different despite Fitterer's bold claims before the campaign. That doesn't detract from the need to give the former Alabama star a better environment to thrive next season and hopefully, way into the future.

If the Panthers hire an analytics/salary-cap manager to work alongside Morgan, it will allow him to focus on the evaluation side more prominently. This is an area he reportedly excels. But there can be no more cost-cutting measures at the skill positions - they must be prioritized and receive the right investment.

There is another potential reason why Carolina went with Morgan aside from the positives.

Comfort.

Tepper is renowned for surrounding himself with people he can manipulate and who tolerate his constant meddling. He kept Marty Hurney when Matt Rhule was hired. He retained Fitterer when Frank Reich came on board. With a hard reset and complete tear-down staring him in the face, he opted to keep Morgan instead.

This was a sentiment echoed by Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, who revealed the level of comfort between Tepper and Morgan that made his promotion almost a foregone conclusion before the interview process began.

"League sources have consistently remarked from the beginning that Dan Morgan had the trust & embedded comfort of owner David Tepper. One league source who just chimed in added he feels like Morgan was Tepper’s guy all along. A new era begins."

Josina Anderson via X/Twitter

A new era? Hardly. The only way that happens is if Morgan develops a backbone to Tepper's influence, keeps him at arm's length, and does what is right for the organization without pandering to the hedge fund manager's impulsive behavior.

Any other owner would probably get the benefit of the doubt with this hire. Morgan is beloved among the fanbase from his time as a player. One could argue he's more than ready for increased responsibilities and is worth a shot.

Tepper hasn't earned that right. Not after running the Panthers into the ground almost from the moment he bought the organization from Jerry Richardson.

Fans have seen enough dumb moves and impulsive decision-making from Tepper to be highly skeptical. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly and Morgan can take Carolina from the proverbial NFL wilderness back to the league's powerhouses.

If not, any remaining confidence left in Tepper will disintegrate in the blink of an eye.

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