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Panthers set to begin 2018 with three new coordinators, a lot more change

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers now have a new defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator and special-teams coordinator.

If you haven’t been keeping track:

•Norv Turner, 65, on Jan. 12 was named the offensive coordinator to replace Mike Shula, who was fired two days after the team's season ended.

•Defensive line coach Eric Washington was promoted to defensive coordinator on Monday to replace Steve Wilks, named the head coach at Arizona.

•Chase Blackburn is expected to be promoted to special-teams coordinator to replace Thomas McGaughey, who reportedly is headed for the New York Giants after his contract at Carolina was not renewed.

That’s a lot of change for a team that went 11-5 and made the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.

More is coming. Potential new owners and ownership groups are putting together bids to buy the team from Jerry Richardson, who announced last month that he would put the team up for sale after the NFL announced the Panthers’ founder was being investigated for workplace misconduct.

At least two local groups are interested. One is being spearheaded by businessman Felix Sabates, who publicly has said he is part of a group trying to purchase the team. Speedway Motorsports Inc. also is interested, but not so publicly. President and chief operating officer Marcus Smith declined to comment when asked about it on Monday during the NASCAR media tour.

At least five potential owners or ownership groups are expected to be involved, one source said.

The interim tag also could be taken off the title of general manager Marty Hurney in the upcoming weeks or months. Hurney was hired the week before training camp opened after Dave Gettleman, who in 2013 replaced Hurney, was fired by Richardson.

Hurney's deal runs through June. If he is not retained or is bumped up to another position, the organization also will have a new general manager.

Player-wise, the Panthers are hoping that future Hall of Fame defensive end Julius Peppers, 37, returns. Sources said Peppers, who tied for the team lead with 11 sacks this past season, has not indicated whether he will play a 17th season or retire.

Peppers left it up in the air the day Carolina’s season ended with a loss at New Orleans in the playoffs.

Starting left guard Andrew Norwell and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei also are set to become unrestricted free agents if not re-signed. Both said after the season that they’d like to stay at Carolina, but understand other teams may be able to offer more money that they won’t be able to refuse.

Change, change, change.

It continues to be the theme of Carolina’s offseason.