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Matt Rhule’s status could hinge on offensive coordinator hire

With Sam Darnold as the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, Mike Florio and Chris Simms wonder how he will do against the New Orleans Saints defense in Week 17.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule is safe. Unless he isn’t.

Amid multiple reports that the second-year coach will get a third year, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports that it’s not a done deal.

“I know it’s put out there that he’s safe,” Glazer said. “Not so fast. Matt Rhule has to hire a rock-star offensive coordinator for him to actually save his job.”

That may be easier said than done. Rock stars have options, and few will want to hitch their wagon to a sinking ship. Think of the pressure that will be on an offensive coordinator on whose shoulders the fate of the entire coaching staff rests.

It also becomes a potential stew of dysfunction for the Panthers in 2022, if Rhule hires a great offensive coordinator. If the team struggles, the rock-star O.C. becomes the potentially obvious in-season replacement for Rhule.

Here’s the reality. This one won’t be over until owner David Tepper makes a decision and announces it. Even then, Tepper could very well exercise now or later the ultimate billionaire’s prerogative -- the ability to change his mind. More than once.