On Thursday, a surprise head coach hire was announced. To be specific, it was announced that the Carolina Panthers hired Dave Canales to be their new franchise head coach. Carolina signed Canales to a six-year contract.
Dave was the Seahawks quarterbacks coach for 13 years and then became the Buccaneers offensive coordinator. He had an insane year one as a coordinator with Baker Mayfield, which led Tampa Bay to an NFC South division title and a Wild Card win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Carolina's offense was dead last during the 2023-24 season, now they have a great coach who will try to develop the former number one overall pick Bryce Young in year two, as he had a poor rookie season.
There are two things following the Dave Canales hire that could be interesting regarding the Denver Broncos.
1. Baker Mayfield:
Following a weird 2022-2023 season and after playing for two teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed quarterback Baker Mayfield to a one-year deal. Baker had a huge first season in Tampa, thanks to the new Panthers head coach, Dave Canales. He had career-highs in three stat categories ... yards (4,044), completion percentage (64.3%) and passing touchdowns (28).
Canales was a big part of Mayfield's success. With that being said, and despite a good season with the Buccaneers, Baker could leave in free agency, due to his offensive coordinator no longer being in there, especially because Tampa's head coach, Todd Bowles is a defensive-minded guy. The hire that the Bucs do to replace Canales will probably impact Baker's decision regarding free agency.
If Mayfield decides to not re-sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Broncos could come into play. Before getting drafted number one overall by the Cleveland Browns back in 2018, Sean Payton liked Baker Mayfield.
Baker would be a very cheap and viable option for Denver, and could be a great mentor if they end up drafting a quarterback in April.
2. Russell Wilson:
The Broncos benched Russell Wilson for their final two games of the 2023-24 regular season. Multiple reports believed that it was due to contract problems, but head coach Sean Payton said it was a 'football decision'. After the season, in the end-of-the-season press conference, George Paton and Sean Payton mentioned that 'the door is still open' if Wilson wants to play for the Denver Broncos.
Wilson is still under contract, but after what happened, the Broncos will likely cut him once the new league year opens in March, unless a desperate team decides to trade for him, in a restructured contract. One of those teams that could want Russ, either via free agency or via trade is the Carolina Panthers.
Bryce Young had a terrible rookie year, and signing a solid veteran starter could make sense, especially to mentor Young. Why do the Panthers make sense for Wilson? Well, the Panthers' new head coach, Dave Canales, was Wilson's quarterbacks coach when he was with the Seahawks. There is a good connection between both.