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Panthers hire a familiar face to be next GM, and owner David Tepper may not be done adding to front office

The Carolina Panthers have hired a familiar face for their next general manager, and they may add to the front office, as well.

Assistant general manager Dan Morgan, a former Pro Bowler for the franchise in the 2000s, is the team’s new president of football operations/general manager. This comes after a search, led by team owner David Tepper, that involved more than 10 candidates and stretched across two weeks.

Eagles assistant GM Alec Halaby and Giants assistant GM Brandon Brown were both finalists for the Panthers GM position, sources say.

According to sources, 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.

Morgan has been the assistant GM in Carolina since 2021. Before that, he served as director of player personnel in Buffalo, going to Western New York after nearly a decade working his way up the ranks with the Seahawks.

His personnel career followed a playing career where he was drafted in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He set a Super Bowl record with 25 tackles in Carolina’s 2003 run that culminated in Super Bowl XXXVIII. But ankle injuries and concussions shortened Morgan’s career.

Morgan has his work cut out for him in his new role, taking over a team that had the lowest offensive output in the league in 2023. He takes over for Scott Fitterer, whom Tepper fired a day after the season.

Fitterer came from Seattle to Carolina in the 2021 offseason to work with then-head coach Matt Rhule, who had control over football operations and the draft until his firing during the 2022 season. Fitterer had a more traditional GM role when paired with Frank Reich, who lasted 11 games as the head coach before Tepper moved to fire him this season.

Fitterer worked with Morgan for most of the 2010s while the two were together in Seattle before Bills general manager Brandon Beane, himself a Panthers alumnus, hired Morgan in 2018 to his front office.

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.

With Morgan taking the controls as the primary football executive, his secondary football executive position is now vacant in Carolina.

The head-coaching position remains vacant as the Panthers move on to a second round of interviews that will involve in-person meetings. Sources say that search committee has included Morgan, which was a good sign for his long-term future there. Carolina had virtual interviews with 11 candidates, including two internal interviews with interim head coach Chris Tabor and defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero.

Tepper has had his sights set on Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who interviewed Friday with Carolina. But Johnson is the hottest candidate on the coaching circuit this cycle, and he’s considered by multiple sources to be the leader for the Commanders job at this time.

Sources say Tepper favors an offensive-minded coach. He has some of the deepest pockets in the league as one of the top-three richest owners in the NFL, but the Carolina job isn’t one of the best available.

The Panthers will need to rebuild their offensive line, retool at wide receiver and create a better pass rush after a league-low sack output. Carolina doesn’t have a first-round draft pick in April in a year where it had the worst offense in football.

Tepper bought the team in 2018 and has never finished the season with a winning record. This is his third coaching search in the past four years, and it continues weeks after the league fined him $300,000 for throwing a drink on a fan during Carolina’s blowout loss to Jacksonville in Week 17.

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