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Dan Morgan returns to Panthers as president of football operations and general manager

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers promoted Dan Morgan to president of football operations and general manager on Monday, handing the task of turning around the struggling franchise to a former star linebacker with the team.

Morgan, who has spent the past three seasons as the Panthers’ assistant GM, will oversee the personnel operation, the team announced.

The Panthers are 31-68 since David Tepper bought the team in 2018, tied with the New York Jets for the worst record in the league. They have not been to the postseason since 2017 and have been criticized for poor trades and draft picks in recent years.

Morgan replaces Scott Fitterer, who was fired this month after the Panthers went 2-15 with No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young at quarterback.

The Panthers are hoping to tap into Morgan’s football background as well as his relationships with players, coaches and agents.

“Dan has a thorough knowledge of our football personnel and a clear vision to take us where we all want to go,” Tepper told the team’s website. “We know he will attack this opportunity with the same intensity he did as a Panthers player.”

Morgan emerged as the leading candidate after multiple interviews with Tepper.

The team had requested interviews with eight candidates: Giants assistant GM Brandon Brown, Buccaneers assistant GM Mike Greenberg, Chiefs vice president of football operations Brandt Tilis, Eagles assistant GM Alec Halaby, Saints assistant GM Khai Harley, Ravens vice president of football administration Nick Matteo, Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds and Raiders interim GM Champ Kelly.

A team spokesman would not say how many of those candidates received multiple interviews.

Morgan began his post-playing career with the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 as an intern and was later promoted during their Super Bowl run to director of pro personnel. He went on to work as director of player personnel for the Buffalo Bills before returning to the Panthers as assistant GM in 2021.

Morgan was one of the franchise’s best defensive players.

A first-round draft pick in 2001, he helped the Panthers reach their first Super Bowl in 2003, anchoring the middle of the defense. He played seven seasons for Carolina set an NFL record with 25 tackles in the Panthers’ Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots on Feb. 1, 2004.

He made the Pro Bowl in 2004.

Tepper can now turn his attention to hiring a head coach, the seventh since he took over.

He fired Frank Reich during the coach’s first season after the Panthers started 1-10.

Tepper also previously fired Matt Rhule and Ron Rivera at midseason, and Chris Tabor, Steve Wilks and Perry Fewell have worked for him as interim head coaches.

The Panthers have already conducted virtual interviews with 11 candidates for the head coaching job, including offensive coordinators Ben Johnson (Lions), Frank Smith (Dolphins), Bobby Slowik (Texans), Dave Canales (Buccaneers), Brian Callahan (Bengals) and Todd Monken (Ravens) and defensive coordinators Dan Quinn (Cowboys), Raheem Morris (Rams) and Mike Macdonald (Ravens). The team also interviewed two internal candidates: Tabor, who doubled as the special teams coordinator, and defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero.

It’s expected that Tepper will fill the spot with an offensive-minded coach who can help develop Young, who struggled mightily as a rookie.

Young was 2-14 as a starter and completed less than 60% of his passes, throwing for an average of 179.8 yards per game with 11 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama was sacked 62 times. Only Washington’s Sam Howell was sacked more (65).

The Panthers failed to score in their final two games, becoming the first team to be shut out in back-to-back games since the 2008 Cleveland Browns. Carolina never led for a single snap in 2023 in the fourth quarter, with its only two wins coming on last-second field goals by Eddy Pineiro.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

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