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The Panthers still shouldn’t be in a rush to hire a head coach

Sean Payton, Ben Johnson, and the winnowing list

Cincinnati Bengals v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers have been adjacent to a lot of headlines this week moreso than they’ve been making news. Sean Payton being scheduled for a Friday interview with David Tepper in New York is the closest there is to direct news about this franchise. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been an eventful week. Several candidates have withdrawn from all consideration for head coach jobs around the league, including three names attached to the Carolina Panthers and one Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh’s withdrawal was of little consequence. He reportedly had a phone call with Tepper before any other candidates were interviewed and was not under consideration after that. Of more interest to Panthers fans, is that candidates Jerod Mayo, DeMeco Ryans, and Ben Johnson have all withdrawn from consideration.

Ryans was an early season fan favorite based on his success with the San Francisco 49ers defense; Johnson was, apparently, a favorite within the organization after his success with Jared Goff in Detroit; and Mayo was apparently a favorite within New England, as the Patriots offered him a contract extension as linebackers coach and assistant head coach with rumors of a HC-in-waiting situation at the end of Bill Belichik’s career.

Payton is the biggest fish in the pond and there have been some trying to draw connections between his entry into the Panthers race with the departure of some other candidates, but I don’t buy that. Payton can only land on one team and the other guys didn’t withdraw from the Panthers job specifically. They withdrew from all of their interviews. Ryans and Johnson were hot candidates interviewing with multiple teams. This is a “the NFL is a weird place” thing and not a “Panthers are considered a toxic destination” thing.

The team is not and should not yet be in a rush to fill their vacancy at head coach. None of the dominoes have started to fall yet in this offseason and the team is casting a wide net. They still have requested interviews with Ken Dorsey, Ejiro Evero, Mike Kafka, Kellen Moore, and Shane Steichen to process. They may not interview all of those guys, but they should do most of them lest they rush into another decision like it’s the only meatball to come rolling down the buffet line.