Ex-Colts, Lions HC Jim Caldwell joins Panthers staff

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- New Carolina Panthers coach Frank Reich continued to surround himself with experience on Tuesday, reaching agreement with former Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell as a senior assistant.

Caldwell, 68, joins a staff that includes former Panthers and Houston Texans coach Dom Capers, 72, who was hired last week as a senior defensive consultant.

Unlike Capers, who will work directly with defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Caldwell will work with the offense, defense and special teams even though he has spent most of his career coaching offense.

Caldwell was one of nine candidates to interview for the Panthers' head-coaching job, which went to Reich. He is the second of those candidates to join Reich's staff, along with Evero.

Reich, 61, and Caldwell were both on Tony Dungy's Colts staff, starting in 2006 when Reich was a coaching intern and Caldwell was assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach. The Colts won a championship that season when they beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Caldwell became head coach in 2009 when Dungy retired and Reich was his quarterbacks coach.

Caldwell has head-coaching experience with the Colts (2009-11) and Lions (2014-17). He had winning records at both stops -- 26-22 with the Colts, including an AFC championship in 2009 before losing to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, and 62-50 with the Lions. He reached the postseason four times in all, two with each franchise.

Reich still hasn't hired an offensive coordinator or committed to whether he will call the plays. One potential candidate is Los Angeles Rams assistant head coach/tight ends coach Thomas Brown, who reportedly is scheduled to have his second interview with Carolina this week.

One thing is certain, Reich's staff will be loaded with NFL experience, something former Carolina coach Matt Rhule was criticized for not having when owner David Tepper hired him in 2020.

Rhule had only one year of NFL experience, that as an offensive line assistant with the New York Giants in 2012. Much of his staff followed him from Baylor.

Tepper said one of the reasons he hired Reich was the vision the coach had for hiring a staff.