The Carolina Panthers were preparing for a busy weekend of interviews, according to multiple reports, but those meetings have been put on hold.
Owner David Tepper and other Panthers’ front-office staff were in New York conducting coaching interviews but flew back to Charlotte on Thursday following the passing of Charlotte FC soccer player Anton Walkes, a league source confirmed.
The Panthers were set interview Sean Payton on Friday but that meeting is now on hold as Tepper — who also owns Charlotte FC — spends time supporting grieving players.
Carolina has also reportedly broken league rules while searching for their next head coach.
Here is the latest buzz, news and rumors from the Panthers’ coaching search:
YET TO INTERVIEW
Sean Payton, former New Orleans Saints head coach: On Monday, Payton told FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd that he would meet with owner David Tepper and the Panthers’ brain trust in New York later this week. According to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, that interview was scheduled to take place Friday, but is on hold.
Payton has already interviewed with the Broncos and Texans for their vacant head coaching positions.
Payton is under contract with the Saints for two more seasons, so he would need to be acquired through a trade. According to Payton, the price will likely be around a mid-to-late first-round pick. According to a league source, there is no NFL-mandated restrictive time frame for a coach to begin working with a new franchise following a trade.
Ken Dorsey, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator: The Panthers will interview Dorsey for their head coach vacancy on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. It is unclear whether that meeting will take place as originally scheduled. The Panthers requested permission to speak with Dorsey last week. Dorsey is in his first year as an NFL play-caller and previously served as the quarterbacks coach for the Panthers from 2013 to 2017.
Mike Kafka, New York Giants offensive coordinator: The Panthers requested permission to speak with Kafka last week. However, Giants head coach Brian Daboll told reporters on Monday that Kafka won’t interview with inquiring teams until after Saturday’s playoff matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. It is unclear whether the Panthers received permission to interview Kafka.
Kellen Moore, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator: Like Kafka, the Panthers requested permission to speak with Moore last week. Also, like Kafka, Moore’s team is still in the playoffs and is scheduled for a Sunday matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. It is unclear when Moore would meet with the Panthers, if at all.
Ejiro Evero, Denver Broncos defensive coordinator: Evero interviewed with the Panthers’ brass Wednesday. Evero is coming off an impressive debut as an NFL defensive coordinator.
The Panthers have satisfied the Rooney Rule requirement for interviews with two external minority candidates and can now make an official offer to a candidate.
Shane Steichen, Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator: Steichen interviewed with the Panthers virtually on Saturday. He isn’t eligible to have an in-person interview until the Eagles are eliminated from the playoffs or they receive the bye week between the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl.
Frank Reich, former Indianapolis Colts head coach: Reich interviewed in person with the Panthers last week.
Steve Wilks, Panthers interim head coach: Wilks interviewed in person with the Panthers last week.
Jim Caldwell, former Detroit Lions head coach: Caldwell interviewed in person with the Panthers last week.
Early start on DC search
Vic Fangio, former Denver Broncos head coach: Fangio interviewed with the Panthers for their defensive coordinator job earlier in the week, a league source confirmed to The Observer. Fangio last worked for the Broncos as their head coach from 2019 to 2021.
Marquand Manuel, New York Jets safeties coach: Manuel was interviewed by the Panthers earlier this week, a league source confirmed to The Observer. Manuel previously served as the Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator from 2017 to 2018.
Kris Richard, Saints co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach: The Panthers requested permission to speak with Richard earlier this week, a league source confirmed to The Observer. Richard has previously worked under Payton, and he has ties to GM Scott Fitterer from their shared time in Seattle.
Out of the mix
Ben Johnson, Lions offensive coordinator: Johnson informed the Panthers on Tuesday that he plans to stay in Detroit, a league source confirmed to The Observer.
DeMeco Ryans, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator: Ryans has yet to schedule an interview with the Panthers, a league source told The Observer. Ryans is interviewing for other openings, but logistical issues were cited as one of the reasons an interview with Carolina has yet to take place, according to the source.
Ryans is still coaching a team in the playoffs, so it’s possible that both sides could revisit a potential interview scenario down the road.
Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots linebackers coach: Mayo decided to renegotiate his contract with the Patriots instead of meeting with inquiring teams, including the Panthers, a league source confirmed to The Observer.