The Carolina Panthers have reached an agreement to make Baylor head coach Matt Rhule as the team's fifth hired head coach in franchise history, according to reports.
Rhule will have one of the biggest coaching contracts in the NFL at a reported $60 million over seven years and could reach as high as $70 million with incentives, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Rhule, a former Penn State linebacker, interviewed with the Panthers on Monday in Waco, Texas, and was expected to interview with the New York Giants on Tuesday where he was the favorite to be named head coach.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rappoport, Carolina owner David Tepper didn’t want to risk Rhule getting hired by the Giants and made a quick deal.
Rhule, 44, will become the first collegiate coach hired by the Panthers and Tepper's first coaching hire.
Carolina has missed the playoffs in back-to-back years, and experienced a seven-game losing streak in each of them. As a result, Tepper fired long-time coach Ron Rivera in December.
Tepper had stated that he wanted the new coach to be offensive-minded and would prefer someone with NFL experience, as opposed to someone with only a collegiate background. Rhule barely meets that criteria, having spent just one year in 2012, as the Giants assistant offensive line coach.
Rhule comes from Baylor, where he has spent the last three seasons. He took over the program following a scandal and improved the team from a 1-11 record in his first year, to 11-3 this past season and a trip to the Sugar Bowl.
He was named the 2019 Big 12 and Associated Press Coach of the Year.
Known as a "culture-builder" and offensive-minded guy, Rhule was also the head coach of another program at the bottom in Temple from 2013-16, where he helped turn around the team from a 2-10 record his first year to winning 10 games in back-to-back seasons. Prior to being named head coach of the Owls, Rhule was the team’s offensive coordinator for four seasons.
Before that, Rhule spent time with Western Carolina from 2002-05, where served as assistant head coach. Prior to that, he was at UCLA in 2002, as a defensive line coach, and Buffalo from 1999-2000, where he was also a defensive line coach, and Albright in 1998, where he was the linebackers coach.