It's no secret that Matt Rhule was the Giants' top candidate to fill their head coach vacancy. And the Panthers knew that when owner David Tepper, GM Marty Hurney and communications/external affairs director Steven Drummond traveled to Waco, TX to meet with Rhule on Monday.
The Athletic's Joseph Person chronicled the Panthers' journey that led to Rhule standing on a podium Wednesday to be introduced as the team's new head coach.
Instead of going to his home like the Panthers, Giants brass had a plane waiting for Rhule in Waco that was set to bring him to New York. Because of that, Tepper added on an extra year to his initial six-year offer, bringing it to seven years and a whopping $62 million.
The Panthers had the upper hand on the Giants by meeting Rhule in person, and that's all Tepper & Co. needed -- after a five-hour conversation, according to the report -- to see he was the next man to lead the team. And due to Rhule's Giants roots as an assistant coach in 2012, the Panthers knew the interest was mutual, and Rhule said as much.
"That's home for him," Drummound told Person about the New York native. "I think it's always difficult when you're talking about home. He had been there. So, yeah, we fully expected him to talk to the Giants. I think that's why Dave was so adamant and aggressive that once he realized and it clicked that this is the guy, this is my guy, this is our guy, he wanted to try to get a deal done as quickly as possible."
Before Rhule would get on the phone with Tepper to accept the position at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, according to Person, his agent Trace Armstrong made a call to the Giants to see if they would be willing to match the Panthers offer. Co-owner John Mara declined, and that's when they pivoted pretty quickly to Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge, who is being introduced on Thursday as the team's 19th head coach.
The Giants had Rhule in their sights, but the Panthers made sure they couldn't lure him in to his supposed "dream job." Rhule declined to speak about the Giants' position during his presser, but did explain exactly why he felt it was right to go to Carolina.
"The biggest thing I'll say is, when they offered a chance to be here for seven years, it spoke about the chance, the belief that we were gonna do this together, do it the right way," Rhule said during his press conference. "And there was no doubt. And there was really no doubt the night before, for my family. And there was really no doubt for me, after just having that synergy, that we were gonna be here."