Panthers to hire Bucs OC Dave Canales as head coach

The Carolina Panthers are hiring Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales as their new head coach, the team announced Thursday.

Canales came to Tampa Bay in 2023 following 13 seasons as an assistant for the Seattle Seahawks.

The 42-year-old was successful with Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield during his first year calling plays, a showing he will look to replicate with young Panthers signal-caller Bryce Young.

"Dave's background is rooted in success," Panthers owner David Tepper said in a statement. "He has an innovative mindset and positive energy that connects well with players and staff. We are impressed with his ability to bring out the best in players."

The Buccaneers advanced to the divisional round of the NFC playoffs this season as Mayfield recorded 4,044 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, all career bests. And the improvement under Canales doesn't seem to be a fluke.

Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith had a banner season under Canales' leadership in 2022. He set personal highs of 4,282 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns and 399 completions on a 69.8% completion percentage. The performance earned Smith his first Pro Bowl selection, as well as Comeback Player of the Year honors.

Panthers team owner David Tepper probably made the team's head-coaching vacancy less attractive for some candidates. Canales will be Tepper's sixth head coach since he bought the Panthers in 2018, counting interims. Frank Reich was fired 11 games into his first season as Carolina's head coach. In a small survey of NFL coaches and front-office executives, the group collectively ranked the Panthers' job opening as the worst vacancy among the seven that were open at the time, according to a Yahoo Sports report from Jori Epstein and Charles Robinson.

"The Panthers, just because of the instability with the owner and that roster needing so much work, it’s not the best shot you can take, that’s for sure,” one polled executive told Yahoo Sports.

Apparently the opportunity for continued career advancement trumped the potential lack of job security for Canales.

Canales, who is Mexican American, became the third of four racial minorities to become an NFL head coach this hiring cycle. The other three hires — the Las Vegas' Raiders Antonio Pierce, the Atlanta Falcons' Raheem Morris and New England Patriots' Jerod Mayo — are African Americans.

From 2010 until '22, Canales transitioned through five different roles for the Seahawks. He started as an offensive quality control coach, a role he filled for two years before he was promoted to assistant quarterbacks coach. He shifted to wide receivers coach for another two years until he was named Seattle's quarterbacks coach. Canales had a brief stint as pass game coordinator in 2020 and he went back to quarterbacks in 2022.

Now, he'll stay in the NFC South and join newly appointed general manager and president of football operations Dan Morgan, who was promoted this month to replace a fired Scott Fitterer.