The Panthers on Thursday afternoon became the first NFL team to hire a new head coach this offseason.
Frank Reich is in line to become the sixth head coach in Carolina franchise history, as first reported by NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero and later confirmed by the team. Reich replaces Matt Rhule and interim Panthers head coach Steve Wilks, who reportedly interviewed with the organization twice after its 2022 season ended. Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore also “really stood out” in Carolina’s search, per Rapoport.
It was a full-circle moment for Reich, who became the first quarterback in Panthers history when they entered the NFL as an expansion team in 1995. Reich is coming off a stint of four-plus seasons as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, who went 40-33-1 under his watch and reached the playoffs in two of those campaigns.
Perhaps the most significant takeaway from Carolina hiring Reich is the Panthers didn’t sign Sean Payton, who met with David Tepper and company in addition to interviews with the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans. It remains to be seen if Payton will take a head-coaching gig with one of those three teams or stay with FOX as a TV analyst.
The Panthers, who flirted with winning the NFC South right until the end of the 2022 regular season, will be a team to keep an eye on in 2023. Carolina boasts a talented defense and with the offensive-minded Reich now aboard, the Panthers figure to vastly improve on the other side of the ball.