Carolina Panthers

Could Panthers lose defensive coordinator, DC-in-waiting in one fell swoop?

Carolina Panthers assistant head coach/secondary coach Steve Wilks has been given permission to interview for Washington’s defensive coordinator job.
Carolina Panthers assistant head coach/secondary coach Steve Wilks has been given permission to interview for Washington’s defensive coordinator job. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The Carolina Panthers have granted Washington permission to interview Steve Wilks for its defensive coordinator position, a league source said Friday.

The development is a bit surprising given that Wilks is the presumptive successor to Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, a candidate for three head-coaching jobs.

Wilks, 47, Carolina’s assistant head coach and secondary coach, also is in the running for a head-coaching vacancy after interviewing with Los Angeles earlier this week.

The Panthers could have blocked Wilks from talking to Washington because he’s under contract and the position – while it would be a promotion – is not for a head coaching job.

Philadelphia denied the Jets permission to interview quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo for their offensive coordinator job this week, according to reports.

Wilks is expected to meet next week with Washington, which on Thursday fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry along with defensive backs coach Perry Fewell and defensive line coach Rob Akey.

If Wilks is hired in Washington, it would mean a reunion with Josh Norman, who developed into a Pro Bowler and one of the league’s top cover corners under Wilks’ guidance in Charlotte.

Meanwhile, McDermott is in the midst of a series of head-coaching interviews.

He met with Buffalo on Wednesday and was in Rhode Island on Friday for his interview with San Diego, which has focused mainly on candidates with a defensive background.

McDermott is scheduled to interview with San Francisco on Sunday.

McDermott was a candidate in Cleveland and Tampa Bay last year, but both hired offensive-minded coaches in mid-January while the Panthers were preparing for their first playoff game.

The timing could be right this year for McDermott to realize his long-stated goal of becoming a head coach.

But depending on when and how things shake out, the Panthers could lose their defensive coordinator and defensive coordinator-in-waiting in one fell swoop.

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