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Matt Rhule: David Tepper told me there’s nothing to Sean Payton report

Panthers GM Scott Fitterer sits down with Mike Florio to talk about drafting Ikem Ekwonu sixth overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, a Cam Newton reunion and whether Sam Darnold or Matt Corral will start at QB next season.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule’s Friday press conference was scheduled to discuss the start of the team’s rookie minicamp, but he also faced one question that had nothing to do with this year’s draft class.

A report on Thursday said that the Panthers are eyeing former Saints head coach Sean Payton for the 2023 season should Rhule fail to improve on the 10-23 start to his NFL head coaching career. Rhule was asked about that report and said it was “probably not” something he’d like to hear, but that it is part of the job and something team owner David Tepper told him not to worry about.
“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 said. “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.”

Plans can change in the absence of progress toward reaching goals and that makes the 2022 season look like a big one for Rhule’s chances of making it to that five-year mark in Carolina.