Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, second from left, laughs as he teams up with team owner David Tepper, left, Tom Glick, President of Business Operations, and general manager Marty Hurney during an introductory news conference at the Atrium Health Dome in Charlotte, NC. on Wednesday, January 8, 2020.
David T. Foster | Charlotte Observer | Getty Images
Whether he knows it or not, Matt Rhule has consolidated his place in the National Football League coaching books – before coaching a single professional football game.
Rhule, who signed a $ 60 million seven-year contract to become the Carolina Panthers head coach, sent shock waves through the NFL when the news leaked last week. His deal is also celebrated in coaching circles as other coaches hope it will increase their salaries as well. This emerges from interviews with sports agents and league officials, many of whom did not want to be identified because the terms of the contract are confidential.
While Panther's owner David Tepper Rhule pays around $ 8-10 million a season, which is a lot in the league, this isn't a record amount for an NFL coach.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is currently the highest paid coach with $ 12 million per season, followed by Pete Carroll from Seattle with $ 11 million, Forbes said. New Orleans coach Sean Payton and Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers coach, also earn at least $ 10 million a year, according to two people who know about the contracts.
Rhules Deal attracted a lot of attention as the former Baylor University head coach, unlike other high-paying NFL coaches, has never coached an NFL team in his career, let alone won a Super Bowl like Belichick, Carroll, Payton and Tomlin.
Set the bar
The best NFL coaches did not regularly earn millions until the late 1990s, when former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Holmgren set the bar for lucrative coaching contracts. In 1998, he left his $ 2 million coaching appearance in Wisconsin to sign an eight-year season contract with the Seahawks for approximately $ 4 million. The deal made Holmgren the highest paid coach in the NFL in 1999 and set a new remuneration scale for top head coaches.
Jon Gruden's $ 100 million deal with the Oakland Raiders in 2018 is interesting not only for the sum, but also for the fact that it's 10 years, which was seen as another shift in coaching circles. Typically, NFL coaching contracts don't exceed five or six years, but Gruden has changed that with this agreement.
The average salary for NFL head coaches is estimated to be around $ 6-7 million, but it could reach up to $ 10 million, according to a sports agent with Rhule.
"Raising the bar"
Thinking in some NFL coaching circles is Rhules Deal, which was longer than most thanks to Gruden's unprecedented 10-year deal, which will help more top NFL coaches earn more than Rhules' $ 60 million contract ,
"It has raised the bar," former NFL head coach Tony Dungy told CNBC in an interview. "It's like this player – once a player does this – the next time everyone else is in the office: & # 39; Hey, it's worth it. I have to be worth it. & # 39;"
"There is no going back now," added Dungy. "I think you will see this surge because it tells the other coaches that there is money out there. Carolina is not the only team that can afford to pay for it."
In the NFL, coaching contracts are not included in a team's salary cap, so these numbers are usually not published. Sports agents usually adhere to a code of silence when asked about the coach's payment. The teams report the contract terms for the coach to the NFL for Commissioner Roger Goodell to review, and the numbers are documented in the event of a dispute.
Worth a coach
Bob LaMonte, the agent who became one of the most powerful coaching agents in the NFL, said owners are increasingly seeing the value of a great coach and some, like Tepper, aren't afraid to spend a lot of money to get one.
Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers is congratulated by head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks after their 28:23 victory in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 12, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Dylan Buell | Getty Images
"The owners have the money they can spend," said LaMonte. "The coach doesn't matter without him because he won't be able to take you to the promised land if he's not a great coach."
LaMonte is president of Public Sports Representation, an agency that represents NFL coaches and executives, including Holmgren and Gruden. When he first founded the agency in 1979, his challenge was to get the owners to "understand in monetary terms what a coach was worth because coaches never had agents. Coaches didn't make money."
Change the salary levels
LaMonte helped change salary levels when he negotiated deals for Holmgren and Gruden to give coaches more influence.
LaMonte "knew what other people were doing," said Dungy. "Well, you want my client; I know what [a team] is ready to pay. We didn't know that as a trainer. We didn't know what other people were doing, what could be done, so you were handed over to the owners. Bob just said, 'Hey, I have six or seven people. I know what they're doing. If you want one of my other guys, you have to step up to the table with it, and that helped everyone. "
One reason why some owners were upset about Tepper is that they fear it will push up prices for talented college coaches like University of Alabama Nick Saban, who led college dubbing after the Miami Dolphins led to college coaching returned.
University to the NFL
When Saban first came to the NFL from Louisiana State University, his five-year contract as head coach in Miami was valued at around $ 5 million a season. In 2019, Saban earned approximately $ 8.8 million in Alabama, which, according to Sporting News, ranks second after Clemson University's Dabo Swinney, at $ 9.3 million.
The victory record of Jim Harbaugh, the head coach of the University of Michigan, points to an even higher payment if he should ever return to the NFL.
As a college coach, Rhule has only played four bowl games, with a combined record of 47-43, after stints at Temple University and Baylor University. Harbaugh's college record was 76-39, including seven bowl appearances, and he led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl XLVII 2013.
Tepper also signed Rhule for seven years when the owners typically did not commit to the top NFL coaches for the first year for more than four years.
"But now they won't be able to get them for less than five," said the NFL agent, who asked not to be identified. "I think the new standard has been set."
The difficult part
To get Rhule, Tepper eliminated the respected trainer Ron Rivera, who was quickly hired by the Washington Redskins.
Now comes the difficult part for Tepper and Rhule: winning in the NFL, which you can't buy with money alone. If Rhule doesn't deliver, Tepper risks looking like the Wall Street billionaire who bought an NFL team for fun without knowing how to run one. If Rhule succeeds, Tepper will look as smart in football as he made his fortune.
"Matt is a very good manager," Tepper told Panthers.com. "And I think a good people manager is a good people manager, college or professional. He will set standards for people. We expect people to adhere to these standards."
It remains to be seen whether Tepper's risk pays off. Regardless of the results, it makes the NFL coach happy because it could help them make more money in their next contract negotiations.