Ron Rivera will return as coach of the Panthers next season following his team’s strong finish.
Carolina Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said Rivera met with owner Jerry Richardson and was informed that he is going to return for a 3rd season. Rivera has 2 years on his current contract.
”He’s going about normal preparations for next season,” Dayton claimed.
Rivera’s status with the Carolina Panthers had been up in the air pending a meeting with Richardson.
Richardson fired longtime General Manager Marty Hurney after a 1-5 start and informed Rivera at the time Carolina Panthers needed to be ”trending upward” the rest of the season.
The Panthers went 6-4 from that point out, including 4 straight wins to close the season.
It’s unclear at this point if Rivera, who went 13-19 in 2 seasons with Carolina, will be forced to make any changes to his staff. The Carolina finished this season 7-9 this season, good for 2nd place in the NFC South.
Dayton said neither Rivera nor Richardson would be commenting on the decision. Other members of the organization were asked not to comment on the decision either, per Richardson’s request.
Nonetheless players were quick to applaud the decision.
”I’m very happy he’s back,” tight end Greg Olsen recounted. ”Obviously the season wasn’t what we were looking for, but I think the way we finished showed that we’re heading in the right direction. Las Vegas odds
”The guys have a lot of faith in Coach Rivera and guys did not want to let him down. I think the way we finished, winning 4 straight, shows a lot about the direction we’re headed and our faith in him as our coach moving forward. I’m happy that things worked out.”
Rivera won a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears in 1985 as a linebacker and broke into the coaching ranks right after his 9-year NFL career ended, first serving as an understudy to Dave Wannstedt in Chicago.
He quickly climbed the coaching ladder and was defensive coordinator in Chicago and San Diego before landing his first head coaching position in Carolina Panthers in 2011. That came after he was turned down for 8 other head coaching jobs.
Offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner was also thrilled with the news.
”That’s great news,” Hangartner said. ”I’m thrilled about it. I think Ron has done a great job and I think he’ll be the first to admit he’s learned a lot since he was hired. He definitely has the respect of the men in the locker room because he’s played the game and he treats guys the right way.”
Richardson is expected to turn his attention to filling the General Manager position and interviews will come in the next week.
Richardson hired former N.Y Giants GM Ernie Accorsi to serve as a consultant for the General Manager search and the team has received authorization to interview 2 members of the N.Y Giants staff – college scouting director Marc Ross and senior pro personnel analyst Dave Gettleman.
Others potential candidates include Packers director of player personnel John Dorsey, Titans VP of player staff Lake Dawson and Vikings assistant General Manager George Paton.