CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers agreed to terms with Frank Reich to become their new head coach on Thursday.

Reich, 61, joins the Panthers after spending the past four-plus seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, where he went 40-33-1 as head coach before being fired on Nov. 7 after a 3-5-1 start. The Colts went to the playoffs twice as a wild-card team under Reich, going 1-2 in the postseason.

For Reich, the hire represents a return to Carolina where he spent one season as the team’s quarterback and started the franchise’s inaugural game in 1995.

Reich inherits a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2017 – and hasn’t won a postseason game since winning the NFC championship in 2015 with league MVP Cam Newton at quarterback.

The Panthers have been searching for stability at quarterback ever since Newton began struggling with injuries shortly after the team’s 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. The Panthers cut Baker Mayfield earlier this offseason and Sam Darnold is an unrestricted free agent, so Reich will have a key say in the future of the team’s quarterback situation.

Reich becomes the first Panthers head coach to come from an offensive background.


The Panthers finished 29th in the league in offense and 29th in passing this season after struggling with quarterback play.

JETS: Former Denver Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett was hired as the Jets’ offensive coordinator to replace Mike LaFleur after Coach Robert Saleh interviewed more than 15 candidates for the vacancy during the last two weeks.

“When it came back to a certain checklist that I was trying to go through,” Saleh said during a video call, “just checking boxes with regard to what we were looking for from this next offensive coordinator, we just kept circling back to him.

“He checks every box that we’re looking for.”

The hiring of the 43-year-old Hackett fuels speculation about whether the Jets could pursue Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose playing future is uncertain. Hackett and Rodgers have a connection: Hackett served as the Packers’ offensive coordinator from 2019-21 with Rodgers as the quarterback.

CHIEFS: QB Patrick Mahomes’ bounce back has taken another step forward.


Coach Andy Reid said Mahomes is “on track. He’s doing well in rehab and doing well on the field.”

COWBOYS: The Dallas Cowboys are not renewing the contracts of six members of Coach Mike McCarthy’s staff, including senior assistants Rob Davis and George Edwards.

The club announced the moves four days after a 19-12 loss to San Francisco that extended Dallas’ losing streak in the divisional round to seven games, the longest since the 1970 merger.

The other assistants on expiring contracts who won’t return are offensive line coach and former Miami head coach Joe Philbin, running backs coach Skip Peete, assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett and quality control analyst Kyle Valero.

• Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has pulled his name out for any head coaching vacancies and will remain in his current position.

Quinn had interviewed with Arizona, Denver and Indianapolis.


BILLS: The Buffalo Bills have fired safeties coach Jim Salgado, a person with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the Bills have not announced the move. first reported the firing.

Salgado just completed his sixth season with Buffalo, and his first coaching safeties. He broke in with the team as a defensive assistant in 2017 before being promoted to overseeing the nickel cornerback position in 2020.

Salgado’s firing comes days after the Bills’ season ended Sunday with a 27-10 loss to Cincinnati in the divisional round of the playoffs. And it follows a year in which injuries depleted Buffalo’s depth at safety, with the most notable to Damar Hamlin, who went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated on the field in Cincinnati on Jan. 2.

COLTS: Jeff Saturday was a fan favorite when he played for the Indianapolis Colts.

Maybe not so much these days.


After going 1-7 as the interim coach and being brought in for a second interview to keep the job next fall, one Colts fans started an online petition to stop Saturday’s candidacy. It had received nearly 3,000 signatures by Thursday night.

“We as Colts fans will always love the memories of the SB XLI team; we love the former players and the people they’ve become, but we don’t want Jeff Saturday as the head coach of this team going forward,” the petition read. “Please hire someone with experience and save your fan base from revolting and losing interest.”

Saturday left his job as n ESPN studio analyst in early November to replace the fired Frank Reich. Team owner Jim Irsay brought back Saturday, Peyton Manning’s longtime center and a member of the Colts Ring of Honor, even though Saturday had no coaching experience at the college or pro level.

The result: After winning his first game, Saturday lost the last seven in a historically poor showing for an interim coach. The Colts finished 4-12-1 and earned the No. 4 overall draft pick.

But Saturday faces an abundance of challengers.

GM Chris Ballard interviewed more than a dozen candidates through the first round of interviews and Saturday got his second one Wednesday.


Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero was scheduled to interview Thursday. Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, is scheduled to go Friday.

Indy is expected to have a second round of interviews with several more candidates before making a hire.

OBIT: Outside linebacker Jessie Lemonier, who appeared in seven games for the Detroit Lions in 2021 in a brief NFL career highlighted by a sack of Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, has died. He was 25.

The Lions disclosed his death in a statement, adding they confirmed it with his family. They did not provide any details.

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