Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule says his boss, and the team’s owner, Dave Tepper told him there is “nothing to” recent rumors the team is looking at making Sean Payton their head coach in 2023.
On Thursday, it was reported that retired New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was a target for the organization if they decided to remove their current coach Matt Rhule in 2023. The rumor was surprising since the Super Bowl-winning coach is expected to transition into a broadcast career in the near future, and Rhule has only led the team for two seasons.
The story certainly put Rhule in a difficult position as he heads into a third campaign that is already pressurized after a 10-23 run thus far as the top on-field shot caller for the Carolina Panthers. However, during a Friday press conference, the former Baylor coach claimed the team’s owner called him directly after the report made headlines and let him know he had nothing to worry about.
Carolina Panthers owners tries to deflate Sean Payton rumors
“With regards to that report, first I heard of it was Dave [Tepper] called me and told me that it was going to come out,” Rhule said [h/t Pro Football Talk]. “They had called him, that there was nothing to it. I know Dave Tepper well enough to believe he wouldn’t be talking to another coach right now. He came to my house two-and-a-half years ago and told me this is a five-year rebuild. That’s what he said to me.
“He convinced me then to come be a part of it and build it with him. We’re not where we want to be. I don’t think it’s gonna take five years, I don’t want it to take five years, but those are the words he said to me.”
Tepper trying to ease his head coach’s fears is the right move but doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t some truth to the Payton reports. Considering the Panthers’ on-field product over the last two seasons, unless Rhule can turn things around significantly in 2023, chances are he will not get a fourth season to turn the franchise into a winner.
Reports already claim Payton isn’t long for the TV game so he would certainly be an interesting choice for the Carolina job if it became available.