Matt Rhule contract breakdown: Panthers head coach 'pissed off' NFL owners with big-money deal

Matt-Rhule-Getty-FTR-092121
(Getty Images)

Cash is the rule for Rhule.

Matt Rhule fostered a reputation in college for being a program builder, and with good reason: The 46-year-old New York native, who made stops at Temple and Baylor before landing the job with the Panthers, left both college programs in much, much better shape than he found them.

Now, Rhule has an opportunity to build a program with the Panthers — and Carolina showed him the money (and patience) to do so.

The second-year coach flirted with the Jets in 2019 before settling in with the Panthers in 2020, spurning the other New York football team in the process. 

Rhule's contract wasn't a simple deal, nor was it light on cash for a first-rime head coach in the NFL. Here's what you need to know about the deal:

Matt Rhule contract details 

Rhule carries with him a hefty reputation — and a heavy wallet. The second-year head coach signed a seven-year, $60 million contract with the Panthers in January 2020, leaving behind the college ranks to try and build an NFL program.

The Panthers devoting that much money to a first-time head coach raised eyebrows, especially from other NFL owners at the time. Robert Klemko of the Washington Post reported at the time of the deal that, via sources, team owners were "pissed" with the amount of money that owner David Tepper brought him in for.

Rhule's pact did a lot more than just tick off some owners, though. According to former coach Tony Dungy, Rhule's pact may have settled in a paradigm shift.

"It raised the bar," Dungy told CNBC. "It's like that player — as soon as one player makes that — then everybody else in the office the next time around, 'Hey, so-and-so is worth this. I must be worth this.' …

"There is no going back now. I think you're going to see this increase because it’s telling the other coaches that money is out there. Carolina is not the only team that can afford to pay that."

Rhule isn't entirely without NFL experience, though: In 2012, he had a spell as the Giants' offensive line coach before returning to Temple as the team's head coach. Coincidentally, Rhule was scheduled to meet with the Giants to discuss their head-coaching vacancy before a "strong" commitment from the Panthers essentially forced him to sign with Carolina.

Matt Rhule career record

Entering Thursday night's matchup with the Texans, the Rhule-led Panthers have a record of 7-11. The Panthers finished 5-11 in 2020, Rhule's first year in Carolina. They've gotten off to a good start in 2021, with wins over the Jets and the Saints.

In college, Rhule finished with a record of 47-43 over four years with Temple and three years with Baylor. Rhule's teams went on to appear in four bowl games, with a 1-3 record in those games.

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