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Panthers HC Matt Rhule: ‘Nothing to’ Sean Payton report

Shortly before last month’s NFL Draft, Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper insisted that head coach Matt Rhule had his “full support” despite Rhule’s overall 10-23 record in the role. 

However, Michael McCarthy reported for Front Office Sports on Thursday that the Panthers were “eyeing” former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton as a potential future replacement if the Panthers miss the playoffs for the upcoming season. 

Payton surprisingly stepped away from the Saints earlier this year and could spend one campaign working as a studio or in-game analyst. It’s expected he’ll be a candidate for multiple head-coaching jobs next winter. 

Per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, Rhule was asked about the story on Friday and said he received a recent vote of confidence from Tepper. 

“With regards to that report, first I heard of it was Dave called me and told me that it was going to come out,” Rhule explained. “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.” 

Things often change quickly in the NFL — ask Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield about that — and Payton previously hinted he is enjoying a brief break away from coaching but not a retirement. It’s only May, but Rhule’s seat may feel quite warm even if Payton has not yet shown any interest publicly or privately in the Carolina gig. 

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