As the Panthers face the strong possibility of 1-3 start becoming a 1-6 hole (the 49ers, Rams, and Bucs are the next three opponents), it’s time to pay close attention to the tenure of coach Matt Rhule.
Rhule was arguably saved by his buyout after a substandard second season. As his third year as an NFL head coach begins to crumble, will owner David Tepper dump Rhule during the season or wait until it ends?
Here’s a reason to do it sooner than later. If Rhule lands a job in the coming NCAA hiring cycle, the Panthers would get a dollar-for-dollar credit as to any remaining buyout. If Tepper keeps Rhule until after the season, the college jobs might be filled.
Rhule signed a seven-year, $62 million contract after the 2020 season. It’s unclear how much of the contract remains guaranteed.
If Rhule is fired during the season, it’s unclear who would take over as the interim coach. Both offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and defensive passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach Steve Wilks have prior head-coaching experience. Wilks has a current lawsuit against the NFL and the Cardinals; that fact, however, should not be held against him.
The Panthers have a late bye, in Week 13. Their short-week game happens on November 10 against the Falcons, giving them a mini-bye before facing the Ravens.