Cardinals hire Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks as new head coach

PHOENIX -- Steve Wilks is the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals announced Monday that the 48-year-old Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator had agreed to a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth.

Wilks spent one season as coordinator in Carolina, his 12th year as an NFL assistant. Wilks spent five seasons as Panthers secondary coach before his promotion a year ago. The Panthers defense improved from 21st overall in 2016 to seventh in 2017 under Wilks leadership, and it ranked third in the NFL with 50 sacks.

Wilks replaces Bruce Arians, who retired after five seasons and compiled a franchise-record 50 victories.

Hey Bird Gang,

Head Coach Steve Wilks has a message for you! #BeRedSeeRed

— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) January 22, 2018

Wilks was in Arizona for a second interview last week. He also coached for 11 years at the collegiate level, including a one-year stint as head coach at Savannah State in 1999, compiling a 5-6 record.

His first NFL job was as defensive backs coach with the Chicago Bears from 2006 to 2008, followed by three seasons coaching the San Diego Chargers secondary.

Wilks was a defensive back during his playing career at Appalachian State from 1987 to 1991. He played one season in the Arena Football League with the Charlotte Rage.

The Cardinals planned to introduce Wilks as coach at a news conference at noon on Tuesday at team headquarters.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson appears to be a big fan of the hire, based on an interpretation of his social media activity.


— Patrick Peterson /P2 (@P2) January 22, 2018