The Cardinals reached a deal to make Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks their next head coach.
Wilks has agreed to terms on a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth, and he will be introduced at a news conference at noon on Tuesday.
The Cardinals had planned to conduct second interviews this week with Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores and Eagles quarterbacks John DeFelippo. Wilks was impressive during a second interview with the team last Friday and is now the successor to Bruce Arians.
Wilks, 48, just completed his first year as the Panthers defensive coordinator, but has spent 11 seasons as an assistant in the NFL.
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He was assistant head coach and secondary coach for the Panthers prior to being promoted to coordinator. Before that, he coached with the Bears and Chargers.
A native of Charlotte, N.C., Wilks is an ASU product – Appalachian State University –where he played defensive back. He coached at the high school level before moving to colleges, where he was an assistant for 11 years with various schools, including Notre Dame and Washington.
The Panthers finished in the top 10 in total defense in five of Wilks’ six seasons with the team. Last season, in Wilks’ first as defensive coordinator, the Panthers went from 21st overall in 2016 to seventh.
Wilks played defensive back at Appalachian State from 1987-91 and finished his career with 103 tackles, four interceptions and four blocked kicks. He attended training camp with the Seattle Seahawks in 1992 and played defensive back and wide receiver for the Charlotte Rage of the Arena Football League in 1993.
The three major football programs in Arizona now have African-American head coaches. Arizona State hired Herm Edwards, and Arizona recently filled its position with Kevin Sumlin.
The Cardinals’ coaching search lasted exactly three weeks, the longest of any NFL team this season. Seven other teams filled vacancies before the Cardinals did.
Wilks is highly regarded in the NFL and also interviewed for the Titans and Giants head coaching jobs. The Titans hired Mike Vrabel and the Giants are expected to hire Pat Shurmur.
It’s unknown who will be on Wilks’ staff. According to various reports, Wilks is interested in hiring DeFilippo as offensive coordinator.
Wilks replaced Sean McDermott as the Panthers defensive coordinator after McDermott became the Bills head coach.
Under Wilks, the Panthers blitzed more than they had in the past. They ranked seventh in the NFL in yardage allowed and were third with 50 sacks.