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Panthers agree to terms with Dave Canales to become head coach


CHARLOTTE — The Panthers have found a new head coach and a chance at alignment in more ways than one.

The team agreed to terms with Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales as the seventh head coach in franchise history Thursday.

"Dave's background is rooted in success," Panthers owner David Tepper said. "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 42-year-old Canales comes with a reputation for working his way up and making the most of the position groups and units he's worked with. There's also the opportunity for a philosophical agreement with the front office, as he spent eight years in Seattle working alongside new Panthers President of Football Operations/General Manager Dan Morgan.

Dave Canales, Baker Mayfield

Also, his recent work with the Bucs showed immediate results in a place many coaches were afraid to go.

Coming on the heels of Tom Brady's retirement in Tampa, Canales arrived this year alongside quarterback Baker Mayfield and helped lead them to an NFC South title and a playoff win.

And taking advantage of a quarterback who can throw on the move and get the ball downfield, the Bucs were seventh in the league in plays of 20 yards or more last year.

Prior to joining the Buccaneers, he spent 13 years with the Seahawks after following head coach Pete Carroll there from Southern Cal.

"I'm excited to work alongside Dave again," Morgan said. "His background coaching multiple position groups has given him a great understanding of what it takes to build a successful team. His infectious personality resonates with players and everyone who comes in contact with him. I'm confident that will translate to the field."

Russell Wilson, Dave Canales

Like Morgan, he rose through the ranks in Seattle, beginning as receivers coach before graduating to quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. In 2022, he helped Geno Smith become a Pro Bowler and the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, as the journeyman quarterback posted a league-leading completion percentage (69.8) and put up career highs in passing yards and touchdowns (4,282 and 30).

That positions him well to work with former No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young and an offense that ranked last in the league in 2023.

The expectation is that Canales will continue to call plays. As with Morgan, Canales will report directly to owner David Tepper.

He becomes the only active Hispanic coach in the league at the moment, the second in franchise history, and just the fifth in league history following former Panthers coach Ron Rivera, Brian Flores, Tom Flores, and Tom Fears.

View photos of Dave Canales during his successful previous stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks.

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