Arizona Cardinals hire Steve Wilks as new head coach

Jan 22, 2018, 9:57 AM | Updated: 9:17 pm

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, left, talks with assistant head coach Steve Wilks, right, ...

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, left, talks with assistant head coach Steve Wilks, right, as players warm up during the NFL football team's training camp in Spartanburg, S.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

LISTEN: Jourdan Rodrigue, The Charlotte Observer

The Arizona Cardinals have hired Steve Wilks as their new head coach, inking him to a four-year contract with a team option on a fifth season.

Wilks met with the Cardinals after the Panthers lost in the NFL playoffs, becoming one of nine known candidates who interviewed with Arizona. He met with the team a second time on Friday.

The Cardinals expect to introduce Wilks at a Tuesday press conference.

Reports said the Cardinals put in interview requests for Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores after the AFC and NFC championship games on Sunday, but it appears the team decided to go in a different direction.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Carolina Panthers linebackers coach Al Holcomb is expected to be Wilks’ defensive coordinator.

Wilks and Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong were the two known candidates to have received a second interview as Arizona searched for a replacement to Bruce Arians, who retired after the season.

The 48-year-old Wilks got his start in the NFL working with defensive backs for the Chicago Bears from 2006-08 before doing the same for the San Diego Chargers from 2009-11.

He then would move into the same role for the Panthers from 2012-14 before becoming the assistant head coach for the next two seasons.

The 2017 season was Wilks’ first as defensive coordinator and his aggressive mentality shined through. The Panthers were third in the NFL with sacks, bringing down the opposing quarterback 50 times. They were seventh in total defense.

His time working with defensive backs appears to be a terrific match to get the most out of Arizona’s talented group that includes Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker.

Wilks was one of the hottest candidates available for teams looking to fill a head coaching vacancy. The New York Giants and Tennessee Titans were among the teams that also had interest in Wilks.

The Cardinals’ job opened after Arians, the head coach for the last five seasons, announced his retirement. Arians, whose personality made him a fan favorite, leaves Wilks with some lofty standards, as he posted a 49-30 regular season record.

Wilks will also have to deal with a big hole to fill at quarterback after Carson Palmer also retired. With Palmer retiring and the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster not signed through 2018, Arizona does not have a quarterback on the roster as Wilks takes over the team.

That puts the spotlight on who Wilks’ signal-caller will be, which could potentially be who the Cardinals select with the 15th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. They could also look to a trade, where they reportedly could be interested in Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, or to free agency.

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