Month: April 2024

Bears Will Consider Moving No. 1 Pick Before Free Agency

The Bears being this open about potentially trading the No. 1 overall pick is notable in itself; only two teams (the 2001 Chargers and 2016 Titans) have moved down from No. 1 this century. But second-year Chicago GM Ryan Poles is open to unloading the pick before free agency begins.

Since the NFL moved the draft to April in 1976, there have been eight instances of teams trading out of No. 1. Each trade occurred in April, with only one of those moves — the Patriots’ 1984 move up for wideout Irving Fryar — happening before April 14. The Bears will consider bucking tradition here to have their ducks in a row ahead of the market opening.

There are some scenarios that might benefit us to move before free agency opens, potentially, but again when we get back with all the information that we’ve gathered from here I think we’ll have a better direction,” Poles said, via’s Courtney Cronin. “There’s scenarios where you could add players as well, potentially, which again, gives you some clarity on what you want to do in the draft and free agency.”

Chicago making a push to collect a trade haul before free agency starts (March 15) would both give the rebuilding team a better view of what type of player it can draft, by determining its new draft slot weeks in advance, and clear up another team’s quarterback outlook early. Then again, the team that would be trading up might not be on the same page with the Bears, with free agency beginning before pro days commence. The teams eyeing Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis will likely want as much information as possible before agreeing to move up.

Three of the eight modern-era trade-ups were for quarterbacks (Jared Goff, Michael Vick, Jeff George). In having a young dual-threat quarterback in place, the Bears reside in a similar place to the most recent team to trade down. Marcus Mariota started for four-plus seasons in Tennessee, though he did not earn a second contract from the team. Chicago is leaning toward giving Justin Fields a chance to prove he will be worthy of an extension someday. No team has inquired about Fields’ availability, Poles said.

Poles confirmed the Bears will examine the QBs in this year’s QB class. With this being the Bears’ first time picking atop a draft since 1947, such research is mandatory. Jets examinations of the 2021 field, when the team held the No. 2 overall pick, led to a trade of Sam Darnold and selection of Zach Wilson. Fields has shown a bit more upside than Darnold after two seasons, though the Bears still need to see plenty more of the Ohio State product as a passer. Poles had previously said the Bears would need to be blown away to take a quarterback first overall. It certainly does not look like that has happened.

We’ve always leaned [toward trading back from No. 1] because Justin did some really good things,” Poles said. “I’m excited about where his game is going to go, but at the same time, when you sit in our situation at 1 overall, you have to do your due diligence, you have to investigate everything, you have to spend time with those guys just to make sure we’re making the right decision.”

Trading down before free agency also would be a move that would hinder the Bears’ study of this QB class, with “30” visits taking place between free agency and the draft as well. It should be considered unlikely the Bears pull the trigger that early, but this trade will be one of the league’s top storylines ahead of the draft.

Teams like the Texans (No. 2), Colts (No. 4), Raiders (No. 7) and Panthers (No. 9) will be in range to move up, combining a QB need with top-10 draft real estate. It will both depend on the offers and how far the Bears are willing to move down. Poles’ trades in 2022 point to the team being fairly open on the latter front.

Eagles To Retain Marcus Brady, Promote Alex Tanney To QBs Coach

The Eagles filled both their top coordinator positions Tuesday, promoting Brian Johnson to OC and hiring Seahawks assistant Sean Desai to head up their defense. These moves will feature some additional rearranging on staff; some of the shuffling became known today.

Alex Tanney is moving up the ladder to fill Johnson’s quarterbacks coach position. Tanney joins Davis Webb as recent Giants third-string quarterbacks to land QBs coaching jobs recently. Webb is set to become the Broncos’ QBs coach.

Webb, 28, and Tanney, 35, were teammates during the 2018 offseason and they have each made quick ascents to this key staff position. The Eagles hired Tanney as a quality control coach in 2021, marking the former NFL reserve’s first job since hanging up his cleats after the 2020 season. He has been promoted each offseason under Nick Sirianni, rising to assistant quarterback coach last year and now being set to play a big role in Jalen Hurts‘ development.

He will have some help on this front. In addition to Sirianni and Johnson, the Eagles are retaining Marcus Brady. Sirianni’s successor as Colts OC under Frank Reich, Brady will serve as a senior offensive assistant. The Eagles hired Brady shortly after the Colts canned him in-season. The former CFL quarterback-turned-NFL assistant is believed to have interviewed for the Jets and Rams’ OC jobs this year, but those positions respectively went to Nathaniel Hackett and Mike LaFleur.

The Eagles also looked to the college ranks before hiring Johnson and Desai. They interviewed Iowa State offensive coordinator Nate Scheelhaase recently, Zach Berman of The Athletic tweets. Scheelhaase has been on Matt Campbell‘s Iowa State staff since 2018. The Cyclones promoted him to OC this offseason. Georgia co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann interviewed for the Eagles’ DC job, Chris Low of tweets. After losing Todd Monken back to the NFL, the Bulldogs will keep their defensive play-caller. Schumann has been with Georgia since 2016 and has been the SEC powerhouse’s co-DC for the past four seasons. Neither Scheelhaase nor Schumann has worked in the NFL previously.

The Eagles also promoted T.J. Paganetti to assistant tight ends coach from the quality control level. Paganetti, who has been with the Eagles for nine years, was a quality control assistant during each of Sirianni’s first two seasons. He was the team’s assistant running backs coach from 2019-20, however.

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/28/23

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Houston Texans

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Commanders

Jennings will be back with the 49ers in 2023. As an ERFA, the former seventh-round pick had limited options. Jennings, who caught 35 passes for 416 yards last season, entered the league as a 2020 draftee but did not play that season. The 49ers will have the option of keeping the young wide receiver through the 2024 campaign; Jennings will be eligible for restricted free agency next year.

Bengals Not Planning To Trade Tee Higgins

The Bengals have rolled out one of the NFL’s best position groups over the past two years, teaming Ja’Marr Chase with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. But Cincinnati’s wide receiver situation becomes more complicated this year. Higgins is now extension-eligible, during the same offseason in which Joe Burrow is expected to sign a potentially record-setting re-up.

One year remains on Higgins’ contract, and the prospect of a big Chase payday has invited speculation about the Bengals’ high-profile No. 2 wideout’s future. Bengals VP of player personnel Duke Tobin emphatically shot down the notion Higgins is available.

I’m in the business of making the Cincinnati Bengals better, so trading Tee Higgins is not on my mind,” Tobin said Tuesday. “That’s their problem. They want a receiver? Go find your own. In my opinion, Tee Higgins is a good piece for the Cincinnati Bengals. The trade stuff is a little ridiculous right now.”

The contractual futures of Burrow, Chase and Higgins does invite questions about the Bengals keeping the trio long-term. Burrow will obviously be the team’s top priority, but Higgins has been a significant factor in the star quarterback’s rapid rise. The 2020 second-round pick has put together three straight 900-plus-yard seasons, with the 2021 and ’22 campaigns ending with the Clemson product surpassing the 1,000-yard barrier.

With Chase looming as a candidate to sign for more than $30MM annually, when that time comes, the Bengals keeping Higgins will be challenging. The team does have a 2024 franchise tag to use, in the event Higgins plays out his rookie deal in 2023, and Chase can be kept on his rookie deal through 2025 — via his fifth-year option. Chosen 33rd overall, Higgins escaped the fifth-year option range by one slot. Chase’s contract year not coming until 2025 would give the Bengals some options to keep their high-end aerial crew together, and the salary cap’s rise will boost the franchise’s hopes on this front.

Still, Higgins will command a lucrative deal. The Chargers faced this issue last year, though their equation is a bit different. The Bolts re-signed Mike Williams to a $20MM-per-year deal, pairing with Keenan Allen‘s $20MM-AAV pact. They gave Williams a three-year contract, and Allen is going into his age-31 season. Justin Herbert‘s extension will likely not overlap long with Allen’s on the Bolts’ books. Higgins is just 24; Chase will turn 23 on Wednesday. Cincinnati’s issue will be keeping three young talents together. Aside from the Chargers, no other team has two wideouts earning more than $18MM per annum.

Higgins hopes his second contract will come from the Bengals. A trade would net Cincinnati considerable value, especially given this modest wideout market expected in free agency. But the Bengals are also aiming to stay on the Super Bowl contender tier. Higgins will be a key part of the revitalized team doing that.

OL Austin Blythe Announces Retirement

After an off-grid season in Kansas City as a backup, Austin Blythe returned to a role as a steady starter with Seattle. He will make that Seahawks season a one-off, however.

Blythe announced Tuesday he will retire after seven NFL seasons (Instagram link). The 30-year-old blocker was set to be a free agent, coming off a full season as the Seahawks’ starting center.

Sneaking onto the draft radar in 2016, Blythe managed to become a regular starter as a seventh-round pick. The ex-Iowa blocker ended up making 66 starts during his seven-year career, the final 17 (plus a playoff outing in San Francisco) came with the Seahawks. Seattle gave Blythe a one-year, $4MM deal to come over from Kansas City, where he backed up rookie standout Creed Humphrey in 2021. Blythe made sure the Seahawks had that center position, one that had gone through some inconsistency in recent years, covered.

A Colts draftee, Blythe will be best remembered for his Rams work. Indianapolis waived Blythe shortly after the 2017 draft, but Los Angeles claimed him in advance of Sean McVay‘s first season. Blythe worked as a backup for the 2017 Rams but started for their Super Bowl LIII-qualifying 2018 iteration and L.A.’s ensuing two squads. The Rams brought him back on a one-year deal in 2020, and Pro Football Focus graded that as a top-10 center season.

The Rams had moved Blythe from guard to center midway through his L.A. tenure, but the versatility did not bring much interest in 2021. Pete Carroll said that Blythe was ready to walk away last year, but some among the Seahawks convinced him to return. Blythe reunited with ex-Rams assistants Shane Waldron and Andy Dickerson with the Seahawks. Carroll had said Blythe previously expressed interest in re-signing with the Seahawks, via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta, but his Tuesday announcement will lead the team to look into other options at snapper.

Matt Patricia Still In Play For Broncos; Sean Payton Discusses Vic Fangio Pursuit

The NFL’s coordinator carousel is slowing down, after nearly two months of spinning. The ride left Matt Patricia without a position, with the Patriots hiring Bill O’Brien after using the longtime defensive staffer in the strange role of de facto offensive coordinator.

Another Patricia path closed when the Broncos hired Vance Joseph as defensive coordinator, bringing back the veteran coach four years after firing him as head coach. Patricia, however, is still in play to work under Joseph. Sean Payton confirmed Tuesday he plans to meet with Patricia about a staff position.

He and I are gonna talk this week, and I wouldn’t rule that out, though. If that were to possibly come to fruition, it would be for a few things,” Payton said, via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers. “I’d certainly want to talk to Vance and our defensive coaches, but I know Matt well enough to know how smart he is and what he can contribute.”

Patricia, who also joined Rex Ryan and Sean Desai as candidates for the Broncos’ DC gig, has spent the past two-plus seasons back with the Patriots. Bill Belichick rehired him, following a rough go of it as Lions HC, and installed his longtime lieutenant at different positions. Patricia spent time in an executive role upon coming back to New England and was given significant responsibilities on offense last season, working as Belichick’s top assistant on that side of the ball. That unorthodox plan did not work out, and O’Brien’s arrival left Patricia in limbo. His Pats contract expired. Patricia’s Lions contract expiring also may have played a role in the veteran looking for a role outside of New England.

Payton and Patricia have not worked together; the latter spent 14 years with the Pats — six as DC — before landing the Lions’ top job. The Broncos are keeping two holdovers on defense — DBs coach Christian Parker and D-line coach Marcus Dixon — and have already added Greg Manusky and Michael Wilhoite to head up their inside and outside linebackers, respectively. Patricia, 48, would make sense as a senior defensive assistant, but Joseph will have to sign off on one of his competitors for the DC job joining the staff.

Although Payton made the rare move to bring a fired HC back to the same team that ousted him, he confirmed he wanted Joseph’s Broncos HC successor — Vic Fangio — to come back. Payton and Fangio were linked to joining forces back in December, but the latter received a host of opportunities and ended up signing a three-year deal with the Dolphins. Fangio is set to be the league’s highest-paid DC.

Do I think he would have been a great asset for us? Yes. We were planning, in this year/wave, if the right scenario came up we’d work together,” Payton said. “I think [the Denver fit] was just a little unique because it wasn’t too long ago he was here, but certainly I tried, talked to him, tried to twist his arm. I’m excited for his opportunity in Miami.”

Payton’s Patricia and Fangio comments made for an interesting morning for Joseph, who agreed to rejoin a team that sacked him four years ago. The initial report of Fangio agreeing to terms with the Dolphins surfaced Jan. 29; the Broncos hired Payton on Jan. 31. While Fangio’s Dolphins agreement did not become finalized for a stretch, it can be assumed Payton still attempted to pursue him for the Denver job. This all occurred before Joseph entered the picture. The Broncos’ Joseph interview request did not come out until Feb. 16. Payton confirmed Joseph’s time as Arizona’s defensive coordinator — a post the recent Cardinals HC candidate called “a tough job for a number of years” — did well to vault him past Denver’s other DC candidates.

Fangio, 64, coached the Broncos from 2019-21. Unlike Joseph, who was not with the team during GM George Paton‘s tenure, Fangio lost his job at the conclusion of Paton’s first season with the team. The Scranton, Pa., native worked with the Eagles as a consultant last season but planned on making a full-fledged DC return in 2023. The Dolphins paid him handsomely to do so.

Giants, Saquon Barkley Moving Closer To Deal; Team Begins Dexter Lawrence Talks

Sitting as the second domino in the Giants’ offseason equation for weeks, Saquon Barkley remains unsigned. He and the Giants have been in talks since midway through last season, but Joe Schoen pointed to progress Tuesday.

The second-year Giants GM said the sides are “a little bit closer” on terms. It is believed the Giants offered Barkley a deal in the $12.5MM-per-year range; that did not move the needle much during the fall talks. The Giants have not been connected to being open to moving too much higher, but they might be willing to climb a bit to retain their dynamic back.

We haven’t totally bridged [the difference]. We’re a little bit closer,” Schoen said, via’s Jordan Raanan. “There’s still a gap, [otherwise] would’ve done it. We’ll still work through that. We’re working with Roc Nation and [Barkley’s agent] Kim [Miale]. We have a great relationship with them and her.

“… Again, you have to draw a line in the sand — like we’re not going any further. And if it goes past this [line], alright, let’s shift to Plan B. Again, hopefully we don’t get to all that but we went through all these plans.”

A recent report indicated a deal at around $14MM per year could move this lengthy process past the goal line. That still would place Barkley outside the top three among running backs, and with those deals (for Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott) all being signed in 2020 or before, it would obviously be somewhat unsatisfying for the Giants back to accept such terms now that the cap has spiked to $224.8MM. But the Giants could have both the advantage of the franchise tag and a robust running back market that could suppress players’ values.

Barkley, 26, has already pocketed considerable cash, being a former No. 2 overall pick and having finished his fifth-year option season. But this offseason represents his best chance to cash in during a career not expected to last too much longer. Barkley should still have multiple prime years left, but backs routinely do not play past 30 in the modern game. The Giants have until March 13 to keep Barkley off the market, but their real deadline may be March 7 — the last day to apply franchise tags.

Schoen reiterated the Giants’ plan to tag Daniel Jones (at a steep $32.4MM) unless an extension is reached. A $10.1MM Barkley tag would, then, only commence if Jones is extended. While the GM expressed cautious optimism extensions for Barkley and Jones will be completed, via the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard (on Twitter), the Giants are likely to go down to the wire here.

Beyond the Jones-Barkley components of this offseason, the Giants have Dexter Lawrence coming off a breakout year and heading into a contract campaign. The Giants have already begun talks with Lawrence, Schoen said (via Leonard), but the discussions look to be preliminary in nature. It is not known if the Giants want to be the team that first bridges the gap between Aaron Donald and the field at defensive tackle. The Commanders just tagged Daron Payne, but he will be part of that mix that includes Jeffery Simmons and Chris Jones, who are each in contract years.

Those contracts would stand to drive up the price for Lawrence, who is going into his fifth-year option season. But the former Clemson standout (and last piece of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade still on either the Giants or Browns) said he wants to stay in New York. The Giants would have the option of a 2024 franchise tag with Lawrence, though their 2023 tag candidates obviously take precedence.

Scrolling further down Big Blue’s expanding priority list, Schoen confirmed the Giants want to keep Julian Love. The Giants will speak with Love’s agent at the Combine, but a deal may not transpire until the Giants survey the market. Schoen said the team will wait to see if teams cut safeties to create a market surplus, which would affect Love’s value. John Johnson will be one of the cap casualties, joining a market set to house Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Jordan Poyer, whom Schoen has close ties to from his Buffalo days. Additionally, Schoen mentioned Jihad Ward as a leadership type the Giants will not want to lose (Twitter links via Leonard). The rotational edge rusher just played out a league-minimum contract.

Lions Expected To Hire John Fox

John Fox returned to the NFL to work on Frank Reich‘s staff last year, but after that move preceded widespread Colts organizational change, the veteran coach is expected to head elsewhere.

The Lions are moving to hire the former head coach, David Newton of tweets. Fox’s HC stops did not involve Dan Campbell, but two crossed paths in New York. Fox was the Giants’ defensive coordinator for a few years during Campbell’s stay. The Lions are expected to bring Fox aboard as a senior defensive consultant, per Newton. He held a similar role with the Colts in 2022.

Planning to give DC Aaron Glenn an extension, the Lions will provide him with an experienced sounding board. Fox, 68, has worked as a head coach for the Panthers, Broncos and Bears and began his NFL tenure back in the late 1980s. Campbell began his 10-year run as an NFL tight end in 1999 and was with the Giants through the 2002 season. That overlapped with Fox’s time in the Big Apple; Fox helmed the Giants’ defense from 1997-2001.

Following Fox’s Bears firing, he spent a few years out of the league. The former Super Bowl-bound HC did not coach in the NFL from 2018-21, but the Colts brought him back prior to what turned out to be Reich’s final season with the team. Fox was part of Gus Bradley‘s defensive staff. Although Bradley is staying in Indianapolis, Fox will join Campbell’s staff.

Beyond Glenn, the Lions feature a few young coaches on their defensive staff. Recently retired linebacker Kelvin Sheppard is in charge of Detroit’s linebacking corps, with fellow recently retired linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton in place as his assistant. Dre’ Bly, who retired several years ago, will coach in the NFL for the first time next season. The former Lions cornerback is set to coach Detroit’s corners. Defensive line coach Brian Duker is in his first go-round as a position coach. Fox’s experience could be valuable for a Lions team attempting to shake off an inconsistent defensive season. The Lions ranked 28th in defensive DVOA last year.

Teams Interested In Brandin Cooks; Texans Working To Move WR

After the Texans and Brandin Cooks regrouped in the days following the trade deadline, the veteran wide receiver may well find himself part of a fourth trade soon.

The Texans are going through the process of meeting Cooks’ still-standing trade request, Aaron Wilson of tweets, adding that multiple AFC and NFC teams are interested in the nine-year veteran wide receiver. With the Combine bringing the 32 teams together, a Cooks resolution could come quickly. Several teams are indeed interested, Wilson adds.

Cooks, 29, requested to be dealt last year, despite having signed an extension to stay in Houston during the 2022 offseason. But the Texans did not deem any offer satisfactory ahead of the deadline. Cooks has been expected to be moved this offseason, however, and the wideout who was traded in 2017 (New Orleans to New England), 2018 (New England to Los Angeles) and 2020 (L.A. to Houston) looks likely to be on the move again.

I have a great relationship with Brandin and his representation and we always have open dialogue,” GM Nick Caserio said Tuesday. “As we work through the course of the spring, we’ll try to do what’s best for the organization.”

Houston dangled Cooks in the days before the deadline, and had the former first-round pick not signed an extension, accommodating his trade request would have been easier. But Cooks’ about-face months after agreeing to the deal led to the rebuilding team resisting lower-end trade offers. The Cowboys pursued Cooks, who was also connected to the Giants and Vikings. Although Cooks was not able to put together a third straight 1,000-yard receiving season with the Texans and seventh overall, contending teams are likely to monitor this situation.

This year’s receiver market may drive trades, with Cooks and ex-Texan DeAndre Hopkins already at the forefront. Free agency is not expected to feature too many notable options, though there will be some starters hitting the market. Deviating from the receiver-rich drafts of recent years, this year’s crop has not generated the same level of hype. As such, a nice market could form for Cooks. Though, the Texans should not be expected to land a first-round pick — which the Saints and Patriots did in the first two Cooks trades — and the team’s 2022 ask of a second-rounder also may be a tad steep. Still, interest exists, and a fifth Cooks NFL employer is likely to emerge before too long.

It would cost the Texans $16MM-plus in dead money to trade Cooks before June 1. While the organization would save $10.3MM with a trade, it would still be a fairly costly maneuver. The Texans moving Cooks would further amplify their receiver need. Second-round pick John Metchie is expected to be with the team this year, after a leukemia battle sidetracked his career, but the team will be in need of more help at the position this offseason.

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spun for several weeks, many teams made coordinator changes as well. Teams seeking new head coaches are conducting OC and DC searches, and a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

This is a big year for offensive coordinator hires, with nearly half the league making changes. Here are the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 3-1-23 (3:31pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals 

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Ben McAdoo)

  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach, (Rams): Hired
  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Kellen Moore)

  • Brian Angelichio, tight ends coach (Vikings): Interviewed 2/2
  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach (Rams): Interviewed
  • Jeff Nixon, running backs coach (Panthers): Interviewed
  • Brian Schottenheimer, offensive consultant (Cowboys): Hired

Denver Broncos (Out: Justin Outten)

Houston Texans (Out: Pep Hamilton)

Indianapolis Colts (Out: Parks Frazier)

  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Tee Martin, wide receivers coach (Ravens): Interview requested

Kansas City Chiefs (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Matt Nagy, quarterbacks coach (Chiefs): Hired

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Shane Steichen)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals (Out: Vance Joseph)

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Leslie Frazier)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Al Holcomb)

  • Ejiro Evero, former defensive coordinator (Broncos): Hired
  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): Interviewed
  • Marquand Manuel, safeties coach (Jets): Interviewed
  • Kris Richard, co-defensive coordinator (Saints): Interviewed

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans 

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Renaldo Hill)

  • Derrick Ansley, defensive backs coach (Chargers): Promoted
  • Doug Belk, defensive coordinator (Houston): Interviewed
  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Interviewed

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Ryan Nielsen, Kris Richard)

  • Joe Woods, former defensive coordinator (Browns): Hired

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Jonathan Gannon)

San Francisco 49ers (Out: DeMeco Ryans)

  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): On radar
  • Chris Harris, defensive backs coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/31
  • Kris Kocurek, defensive line coach (49ers): On radar
  • Steve Wilks, former interim head coach (Panthers): Hired