CHARLOTTE — Dan Morgan wants tough. Dan Morgan wants smart.
And he's smart enough to know this might take a second to get right.
The new Panthers President of Football Operations/General Manager will meet with the media later today for the first time since taking his new job, and he's not walking to the lectern to sell more hope than is reasonable to expect.
"I think first, it's not an overnight process," Morgan said of building the roster for the 2024 Panthers. "I think it's going to take a little bit of time.
"I'm not going to put any timelines on it, but it's going to take a lot of hard work and dedication, not just from myself, but from the coaching staff, from the scouts, we've all got to work our butts off, and we've got to find the type of players that we love, which is passionate players."
When you're coming off a 2-15 season and lack a first-round pick, that's a fair expectation to set.
But that doesn't mean he's settling for anything.
Morgan's an intense guy; the way he played the game is reflected in the way he approaches his new responsibility. But he's not necessarily built for press conferences, as he's direct and to the point and would certainly prefer to spend the time working.
He joked that his outward personality may not be the same as always-on head coach Dave Canales, but with their background together (eight years with the Seahawks), he thinks they mesh.
"Dave's really passionate," Morgan said. "He loves what he does. And I think that's why we get along so well, I think that we have the same type of attitude.
"Dave's maybe a little more animated than me, but we're very passionate about what we do. We love what we do. I mean, I remember our times out there, and I just know that he has that same attitude every day. You really never see Dave have a bad day. He's always going to have a smile on his face and be passionate about what he does."
And when Morgan thinks about the energy his new counterpart brings to the job, he also wants to see that in the players they bring in to supplement a solid core on defense, along with quarterback Bryce Young.
Morgan walks into the job with a former linebacker's mentality, so it's no surprise that when he's asked about the kinds of players he wants to add to this roster, he mentioned Pro Bowl defensive tackle Derrick Brown and linebacker Frankie Luvu off the top.
"I think it's all about finding guys that are passionate about football," Morgan said. "Guys that love coming in, they love the process, they love the day-to-day, the lifting, the film, all that type of stuff. It's guys that just love football, and it shows in everything they do, not just on the field.
"Guys that just play with a relentless motor, relentless effort. They're tough, and their energy and their passion show through their actions on the football field. And those are the type of guys that we're looking for."
Morgan's ability to identify players like that is partially from on having been one. But he's also been a part of multiple successful organizations, from his time playing in the Super Bowl here to his years alongside Canales with the Seahawks (where they won Super Bowl rings) to his three years in Buffalo, a place where they've been to the playoffs six of the last seven years.
And while he spent the last three seasons here as assistant GM under Scott Fitterer, Morgan's also the kind of evaluator who isn't afraid to put his own stamp on things.
Bills GM Brandon Beane, who hired Morgan away from the Seahawks in 2018, said he saw repeated evidence of Morgan respectfully disagreeing in draft meetings — with him, with coach Sean McDermott, with owner Terry Pegula.
"He is not afraid," Beane said of Morgan. "You know, our owner was in draft meetings, and if he asked a question or disagreed with something, or if coach McDermott said something, or a coordinator. Like, if Dan didn't believe that you were right, he was going to stand on the table. I always told the guys to speak up if you've done the work, and Dan wouldn't speak out of turn, but if he had done the work, he wouldn't back down from me as well if he disagreed.
"I've seen him disagree with our owner. I've seen him disagree with the head coach in different situations in a respectful manner. Also, understanding his role here, after you make your case, sometimes the decision is going to be made, and maybe we don't go with you. It's big for the GM to explain to everyone that once a decision is made, it's the decision of the club. Everyone in the building's got to support that. People want to be right, and that's not what it is.
"It's making sure you make the right decision for the team. And that's where the GM comes in and has to create that alignment throughout your building once decisions are made."
And that kind of alignment is central to what Morgan wants to build here. At several junctures during conversations about his new role, he talked about coming together alongside Executive VP of Football Operations Brandt Tilis and Canales and the entire staff to help build something new here.
"You know, it's really not about me," Morgan said. "I think it's a collaborative effort between all of us in the front office, between Brandt, myself, between Dave. I think that it's truly a collaborative effort that we all got to put our brains together and do what's best for the Panthers. . . .
"And that's where, talking with Brandt, talking with coach Canales, like us three kind of putting our heads together, casting a vision for the team and then kind of seeing that vision through. I think that's the biggest thing where we're all on the same page, and we're disciplined in our approach."
View images of the Panthers' new head coach and President of Football Operations/General Manager as they set foot in Charlotte following the Senior Bowl.