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Former Panthers Coach Matt Rhule Files for Arbitration

First reported by Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, former Carolina Panthers Head Coach Matt Rhule has filed for arbitration against the Carolina Panthers, alleging that the Carolina Panthers have refused to pay the amount owed to the coach after offsetting his salary as head coach of the University of Nebraska football team. Based on rough estimates, the amount in dispute is between $5-7 million, depending on the remaining amount the Panthers owe Rhule.

In 2020, the Carolina Panthers signed Matt Rhule to a seven-year, $62 million contract after Rhule’s successful stints as head coach at Baylor University and Temple University. After less than three years and starting the 2022 season with one win in five games, the Carolina Panthers decided to make a change and fired Rhule, finishing his stint with the Panthers with an 11-27 overall record.

At the time of Rhule’s firing, the Carolina Panthers still owed around $34 million through 2027. Rhule’s contract included a clause that the remaining amount the Panthers owe Rhule would be offset if Rhule signed a contract with another team.

In November 2022, Rhule signed an eight-year, $74 million contract with the University of Nebraska, which began at $5.5 million and gradually increases each year. Through 2027, Nebraska owes Rhule roughly $28 million.

Since the Panthers included an offset clause in their contract with Rhule, the $28 million Nebraska owes to Rhule through 2027 offsets the $34 million the Panthers owe Rhule. Thus, Rhule’s arbitration suit is likely claiming that the Carolina Panthers are refusing to pay somewhere between $5-7 million. Importantly, it is unclear when the Panthers are required to pay out the amount they owe to Rhule.

Typically, contracts between coaches and the National Football League (NFL) have a strict mandatory arbitration clause. Thus, the NFL has the option to appoint an arbitrator to hear Rhule’s dispute with the Panthers. Since arbitration is private compared to public litigation, any settlement will likely be confidential.

The Carolina Panthers thought they moved on from the Rhule era, hiring Frank Reich last week. However, it will not officially be over until Rhule’s dispute is resolved.

Landis Barber is an attorney at Safran Law Offices in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can connect with him via LinkedIn or via his blog He can be reached on Twitter @Landisbarber.

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