Cardinals hire Panthers DC Wilks as new coach

Carolina will be replacing both coordinators this offseason

Steve Wilks speaks after being introduced as the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals during a Tuesday press conference. (Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports)

The Arizona Cardinals named Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks as their next head coach on Monday.

Wilks, 48, signed a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth season. A news conference officially introducing Wilks will be Tuesday, the team announced.

After a strong first interview, Wilks had a second interview Friday with Cardinals president Michael Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim.

“This is not really a rebuild, this is a retool,” Wilks told the team’s website on Monday. “We have the culture of winning here. We just have to be able to sustain it. It’s all about trying to get to the next level and the consistency you need to get to the next level.

“I believe building a culture based on three things: Trust, commitment and accountability.”

Wilks just completed his first year as the Panthers’ defensive coordinator.

The Panthers were seventh in total defense, 11th in points allowed, third in rush defense and third in sacks this season.

Wilks has been coaching since 1995 and has been an NFL assistant since 2006. The Panthers hired Wilks in 2012 as defensive backs coach, adding assistant head coach to his title in 2014. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2017, along with his assistant head coach role. He also coached with the Chicago Bears and Chargers. He has coached in two Super Bowls, one each with the Bears and Panthers.

Wilks’ departure means Panthers coach Ron Rivera will be replacing both of his coordinators this offseason. The team replaced departing offensive coordinator David Shula with veteran coach Norv Turner last week.

“I’m fired up for Steve,” Rivera said in a statement. “Steve and I have been fortunate to work together at three different stops, and at all three stops we’ve had a tremendous amount of success, and Steve’s been a big part of the success we’ve had.

“I believe he’s going to do the same thing in Arizona because of the type of person he is. High character, high moral values, tremendous football person and a great leader.”

The Cardinals echoed that assessment of Wilks.

“In our research, they talked about what a passionate coach (Wilks) is on the field and what a terrific leader he is,” Bidwill said in a statement. “Players love playing for him.”

The Cardinals reportedly planned to conduct second interviews this week with New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores and Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo but called those off after Wilks’ strong second interview.

“I understand it’s a privilege,” Wilks said. “I’m humbled and honored to be the head coach.”