The Carolina Panthers didn't need to wait long after Ejiro Evero was available to get him as their defensive coordinator, agreeing to terms with the 42-year-old to the same position. Evero served as defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos for just one season after getting hired by Nathaniel Hackett last year.
Once Hackett was fired, that freed Evero to pursue other opportunities -- even if he was still under contract by the Broncos. Denver hired Sean Payton to be its head coach last week, and released Evero from his deal after Payton decided to go into another direction for the Broncos defensive coordinator.
Evero came in high demand immediately after being released from his contract, as the Panthers and Minnesota Vikings were interested in brining him on as their defensive coordinator. Evero worked with Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell with the Los Angeles Rams, making the move to Carolina a bit of a surprise.
Evero was one of nine coaches who interviewed for the Panthers head coaching job before Reich got it, but has some connections to Carolina. Dom Capers was a senior defensive assistant on Evero's staff last year with the Broncos (Capers was the head coach in Carolina when Reich was there) and Evero was on the San Francisco 49ers staff under Vic Fangio (who was the defensive coordinator for the 1995 Panthers).
The Fangio style of defense is all the rave in today's NFL, as Evero rises up the coaching ranks. The Broncos finished seventh in yards allowed and 14th in points allowed under Evero, despite finishing dead last in points per game last season. Denver finished seventh in points per possession allowed under Evero (1.72) and third in yards per possession allowed (27.4). The Broncos also finished 12th in pass yards per game allowed and 10th in rush yards per game allowed, a balanced defense despite the limitations on offense.
Carolina has its first major coordinator hire under Reich with Evero. Detroit Lions assistant head coach and former NFL running back Duce Staley is reportedly going to Carolina in an unspecified role.