The Panthers interviewed Bills assistant special teams coach Cory Harkey on Monday for their open special teams coordinator job, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Harkey has spent the past two seasons assisting the Bills, who had the NFL’s best special teams unit in 2021 as measured by defense-adjusted value over average.

The Carolina Panthers recently interviewed Buffalo Bills assistant special teams coach Cory Harkey for their open special teams coordinator position. Harkey has spent the past two seasons assisting the Bills’ special teams unit, which ranked as the NFL’s best in 2021 before coming back down to earth this past season.

Looking to Improve Struggling Special Teams

The Panthers are looking to revamp their struggling special teams unit, which ranked 23rd in the league this past season according to defense-adjusted value over average. Letting go of former special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, who took over as interim head coach after Matt Rhule was fired, new Panthers head coach Dave Canales is conducting an extensive search for the right candidate to turn things around.

In addition to Harkey, the Panthers are also considering Seattle Seahawks assistant Tracy Smith to take over special teams coordinator duties. Whoever gets the job will have their work cut out bringing the Panthers special teams out of the bottom third of the league. Signing up with a North Carolina sports betting app and taking advantage of North Carolina sportsbook promos like a BetMGM North Carolina bonus code could make Panthers games more exciting – and palatable – for fans next season if the new coordinator is able to improve kick and punt coverage and return units.

Harkey Brings Playing and Coaching Experience

Harkey spent five seasons in the NFL primarily playing special teams for the Rams and brings a mix of playing and coaching experience. His final season ended early due to injury, after which he transitioned into coaching. He gained experience coaching tight ends and special teams at the college level before joining Buffalo as assistant special teams coach in 2021.

Bills Special Teams Regressed in 2023

In Harkey’s first season, Buffalo had the NFL’s top special teams unit according to DVOA. While still ranking in the top half of the league in 2023, falling to 15th indicates some regression. Harkey was assistant coach both seasons, so may not deserve sole credit or blame for the unit’s performance. But it does raise questions around whether he would be able to turn around the Panthers’ struggling special teams if given the coordinator job.

More Buffalo Staff Could Be Targeted

With several head coach openings around the league now filled, attention turns to filling out coaching staffs. If Harkey lands the Panthers special teams coordinator job, he may not be the last coach brought over from Buffalo’s staff. The Sean McDermott coaching tree has already borne fruit in Carolina with Matt Rhule’s hiring a few years back. Now with Rhule gone and McDermott disciple Dave Canales taking over as head coach, the pipeline from Buffalo to Carolina seems to be still flowing.

✅ Fact Checked on February 2, 2024 by Ken Weaver