Matt Rhule will be head coach of the Carolina Panthers in 2020.
The Panthers announced Rhule agreed to a deal that is reportedly worth up to $70 million.
Reports first surfaced Tuesday morning that Rhule agreed to take the job and will be introduced this week. The whopper of a contract is a news headline all to itself.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Rhule’s seven-year deal — four- or occasionally five-year contracts are the NFL standard — is worth $60 million with built-in incentives that could push the contract to a total value of $70 million, easily a new NFL benchmark.
The Panthers went 5-11 and fired head coach Ron Rivera before the 2019 season ended. Rivera landed on his feet as head coach of the Washington Redskins.
Rhule, the Baylor head coach, was a top candidate in the latest NFL coaching cycle after surfacing as a popular name in January 2018. He interviewed with the Indianapolis Colts before pulling his name from consideration then.
In Rhule’s third season at Baylor, the Bears went 11-3 in 2019. They were 1-11 his first year in Waco.
The Panthers also were forced to pay a buyout of $6 million to free Rhule of his Baylor contract, Schefter reported.
Baylor thanked Rhule for his work on and off the field in a statement released Tuesday afternoon and announced a search for his replacement was underway.
There are big questions ahead in Carolina, the most prominent of which is the future of quarterback Cam Newton. Newton was hurt in the third game of the preseason against the New England Patriots and attempted to play through a foot injury before being shut down after two regular season games and eventually having surgery.
Newton is 68-55-1 as a starting quarterback but the former No. 1 pick reportedly is open to a trade after Kyle Allen played well in Newton’s absence.
Rhule, 44, declined to interview this month for the vacancy with the Cleveland Browns. He was an assistant offensive line coach for the Giants in 2012, but otherwise has no NFL coaching experience.
—Field Level Media