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AP Source: Panthers owner to meet with Rivera

January 4, 2013

(O-N-E photo by Kurt Barkley)

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has scheduled a meeting with Ron Rivera Saturday morning to discuss the coach's future with the team, said a person familiar with the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because the meeting has not been publically announced.

It's uncertain if Richardson will inform Rivera whether he will remain Carolina's coach at the meeting or gather input from Rivera and then make a determination at a later date.

Rivera has two years remaining on a four-year contract.

He's 19-32 in two seasons as the Panthers coach.

Richardson hasn't spoken to the media since firing GM Marty Hurney after Carolina's 1-5 start. Rivera said that's when Richardson informed him the Panthers needed to be "trending upward" for him to keep his job.

The Panthers went 6-4 the rest of the way closing the season by winning four straight games, which would seem to bode well for Rivera.

However, Richardson has not said anything definitive on whether or not he'll bring back Rivera, a former Chicago Bears linebacker who won a Super Bowl ring playing alongside Walter Payton.

The Panthers went 6-10 in 2011 and 7-9 this season under Rivera.

Richardson's Panthers have not been to the playoffs since 2008 and have not won a playoff game since 2005.

"What I was told is Mr. Richardson and I will sit down and discuss things and we'll go from there," Rivera said at his season-ending press conference Monday. "I can't tell you anything more than that. I do look forward to the opportunity to meet with him and discuss this."

The person who spoke with the AP said Richardson has spent the week lining up potential candidates for the team's vacant general manager position and is expected to proceed on a coaching decision without the input of the new GM.

Those interviews with potential GMs are expected to begin next week.

Richardson hired former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi to serve as a consultant for the GM search and the team has already received permission to interview two members of the New York Giants staff — college scouting director Marc Ross and senior pro personnel analyst Dave Gettleman — and others are expected to meet with him as well.

Rivera didn't discuss his future with his players during their brief 10-minute meeting Monday morning at the team's facility.

"He didn't mention it," offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner said. "He just said thanks for the hard work this season and finishing the season on a strong note. That's kind of where it was left."

Among the Panthers five wins in their final six games included a convincing 30-20 victory over the NFC's top seeded Atlanta Falcons. Carolina's four-game win streak to close the season came despite having five starters and 14 players overall on injured reserve.

"I like where we are and I like the things that we have done," Rivera said. "I believe we are better now than when I first got here. And it's a job that I would like to have."

Rivera was hired to replace John Fox in 2011 after a coaching search led by Hurney and team president Danny Morrison.

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