CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With the Carolina Panthers on the verge of winning the NFC South and reaching the NFL playoffs for the first time in five years, it remains unclear if interim coach Steve Wilks will get the full-time job.
Wilks' turnaround has him in position as a "strong candidate" for the job, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero. Team owner David Tepper reportedly respects Wilks' leadership traits and the Charlotte native is well-liked among influential voices in the organization.
Even if Carolina makes the playoffs, Rapoport's latest report indicates the team intends to conduct a "full coaching search" before hiring someone for the full-time job. The list of candidates includes Wilks and several in-demand candidates with offensive backgrounds. Tepper's top priorities include solidifying the quarterback position, something the team hasn't done since Cam Newton was injured in 2018. Carolina has started five different quarterbacks since the start of 2020, including a brief reunion with Newton last season.
The Panthers have remained in the hunt after Wilks took over a floundering 1-4 team following Matt Rhule's dismissal. If the team wins its final two games (at Tampa Bay and at New Orleans), it will be the first playoff appearance since Tepper bought the team in 2018. It would be the team's first division championship since 2015, when Cam Newton led Carolina to Super Bowl 50.
Other teams with head coaching vacancies include the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts.
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