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#pounditTuesday, June 18, 2024

Matt Rhule files arbitration suit against Panthers

Matt Rhule at his first Nebraska press conference

Nov 28, 2022; Omaha, Nebraska, US; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule speaks at the introductory press conference at the Hawks Championship Center on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers got out from under the remainder of Matt Rhule’s contract when their former head coach was hired by Nebraska, but Rhule says the team still owes him a large sum of money.

Rhule last week filed an arbitration suit against the Panthers, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports reports. The suit does not specify how much money Rhule believes he is owed, but Jones says the coach’s contract terms indicate there is roughly $5 million in dispute.

Rhule signed a seven-year contract worth more than $60 million with the Panthers in January 2020. The deal included offset language that decreased the amount the Panthers would owe Rhule if he landed another coaching job. According to Jones, the Panthers are arguing that Rhule’s contract with Nebraska is structured in a way that is designed to force Carolina to pay him more money.

The Panthers believe Rhule’s contract with Nebraska violates a section of the NFL’s anti-tampering policy that reads as follows:

“If the contract with the new club includes a substantial salary increase in new contract years, the Commissioner shall use the following as a guideline to determine the reasonableness of those increases: (i) if annual compensations is scheduled to increase by 20 percent or more for the new contract years, the prior club’s annual offset, if that club is entitled to an offset, shall be calculated based upon the employee’s average annual compensation during the entire term of contract.”

Rhule had a consistent base salary of $8.5 million with the Panthers. Carolina’s argument is essentially that they do not want to make up the difference in Rhule’s base salary toward the front end of his Nebraska deal because the contract is so backloaded — perhaps intentionally.

It seemed clear when Rhule left the Panthers that he was not on good terms with the team. The arbitration suit will likely create even more tension.

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