Two Ex-Panthers That Could Fill Coaching Vacancies

The Carolina Panthers have multiple coaching voids to fill and two former players who were recently with the team could be viable options.

The offseason has not been kind to the Carolina Panthers coaching staff so far in 2017. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott left the team to become the Buffalo Bills head coach and well-respected wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl decided to step away from coaching just a few days later.

The loss of McDermott has been expected for a few season’s as the new Buffalo Bills head coach was the main architect of four straight top 10 Panthers defenses from 2012-2015. On the other hand, Proehl’s departure was a shock, albeit understandable as he’s decided he wants to spend more time watching his two Division-I wide receiver sons play.

With these two moves among the coaching staff, Carolina’s offseason started a bit earlier than usual and now efforts will be made to fill the vacated positions in head coach Ron Rivera’s staff.

They’ve already done so at defensive coordinator promoting longtime secondary coach and

assistant head coach Steve Wilks to the post, which should help maintain some continuity in the defense. For the receivers coach and Wilks’ old secondary position there has yet to be a hire and at this point there’s only speculation as to who will fill them.

During the hiring process, names of former players who have recently retired can occasionally get tossed around as possible options. While many of these are nothing more than a faint hope, a few ex-Panthers names have been thrown around that could be intriguing and legitimate candidates.

In the secondary, Charles Tillman has been mentioned by numerous sources as being a possible option. He even took to twitter to stir up some controversy with a curious emoji choice.

Tillman spent just one season in Carolina but it was certainly an impactful one. The 13-year veteran was part of a top flight secondary in 2015, alongside Josh Norman, that helped lead the Panthers to Super Bowl 50.

During his time with Carolina, Tillman was essentially a coach on the field already, teaching his fellow defensive backs his famous “Peanut punch.” After his season ending knee injury in the regular season finale, Tillman acted as a coach on the sidelines constantly providing support and advice to his teammates.

In his retirement, Tillman has spent some time around the Panthers organization coming in to help at practices during last offseason. With his skill set, experience, and leadership skills he would certainly make a quality coaching candidate and could definitely help a youthful secondary in Carolina.

For the receivers coach opening, there has been less speculation into potential hires but one name that got brought up was another former Panther who was a part of the team’s Super Bowl run last season: Jerricho Cotchery.

ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton first suggested the possibility of Cotchery joining the conversation as a conceivable option.

As Newton stated, Cotchery – who’s not officially retired – still lives in Charlotte and spent the last two seasons in Carolina serving as the veteran leader with an otherwise young and inexperienced receiving corps.

The 34-year-old was a reliable pass catcher for the Panthers and while he was occasionally outperformed by more youthful teammates, his impact as a mentor and leader were greatly felt within the position group.

Cotchery may not get the outright title of receivers coach but as Newton suggests, he could certainly be in the mix as an assistant at the very least. It would be no surprise judging from his impact with the team in just two two short years.

With both candidates there is very little, if any, evidence to suggest that they are in contention for these positions or even being considered by head coach Ron Rivera. At the same time, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see these two seasoned veterans end up as coaches in Carolina.

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