Rhule In, Brady In, Kuechly Out: Panthers Adding and Subtracting

  • The Carolina Panthers recently hired Baylor head coach Matt Rhule on a 7 year, 60 million dollar deal.
  • It is currently being reported that the Panthers will also add LSU's passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Joe Brady to Rhule’s staff.
  • Panthers star linebacker Luke Kuechly announced a surprising retirement after eight years in the NFL, seven of them as an All-Pro.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Carolina Panthers have been making significant offseason moves, overhauling their coaching staff, and losing key players. Recently, they announced the hiring of Baylor head coach Matt Rhule to an astonishingly high priced contract worth 60 million dollars.

The Panthers ownership wants results and doesn’t care what they have to pay.

To go along with Rhule, they brought in the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach of the LSU Tigers, Joe Brady. He is the man that many people see as partially responsible for the record-shattering, championship-winning LSU offense. These hires have built excitement around the team.

The changing of the guard at Carolina is not limited to the coaching staff, however. Star linebacker Luke Kuechly, the most important player on the Panthers defensive unit for years, has announced his retirement after eight years in the league, seven of them as an All-Pro at his position.

Kuechly is a huge loss and will create a hole in the defensive unit that the Panthers will undoubtedly struggle to fill. Each of these changes represents something important about Carolina, and each plays a factor in their ability to compete for a Super Bowl next season.

Matt Rhule

Rhule represents, more than anything, the desire of the Panthers ownership for a turnaround in quality, and their willingness to pay to get it. Rhule has a track record of taking struggling college teams and changing their trajectory, having taken both Temple and Baylor from the bottom of the barrel to 10+ win seasons.

Rhule is relatively unproven as far as NFL coaches go, having only been a head coach at the collegiate level, and only been a head coach at all since 2013 when he was hired at Temple after a brief stint as an assistant coach with the New York Giants.

Joe Brady

Brady is fresh off one of the best seasons any offensive coach can have. His offense, helmed by Heisman Trophy Winner Joe Burrow, took the LSU Tigers to the College Football Playoff Championship, and the combination of Burrow and Brady shattered records in terms of offense.

Brady represents the Panthers willingness to trust talent that has succeeded at the college level, and not get stuck in the cycle of hiring failed NFL coaches. Brady, at age 30, is an extremely young assistant, and snapping him up now could pay huge dividends in the future.

Luke Kuechly

Luke Kuechly’s retirement came as a shock to many. The 28-year-old All-Pro linebacker evidently felt that it was time to hang up his cleats and focus on his future after the NFL. Kuechly is undeniably a star, the quarterback of the Carolina defense, and losing him is certainly a blow to the new coaching regime.

Kuechly is not the first NFL star to retire younger than expected after suffering constant injuries, and he won’t be the last. Andrew Luck’s retirement before this season shook the Indianapolis Colts to the core, and while the Panthers have more time to handle the situation than the Colts did, Kuechly could be irreplaceable.

Changing the guard isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always fun. Kuechly’s retirement is an inflection point in franchise history, and it remains to be seen if Rhule and Brady can make it an inflection point that leads upward.

More changes could be coming in Carolina, as there have been rumors regarding whether or not Cam Newton will return to the Panthers, and there are several potential playoff quarterbacks  that could be on the move.

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