Ron Rivera: “We’d be interested” in DeSean Jackson

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The Panthers just cut the best player in franchise history, who happened to be a wide receiver, so they’re naturally going to be linked with DeSean Jackson.

But though reporters who cover the team are already declaring it unlikely, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he wanted to find out more.

Rivera was the first to drop a cannonball into the deep end of the Jackson speculation pool, telling Jim Corbett of USA TodayWe’d be interested,” moments after Jackson’s release.

“He’s an intriguing player and we’ll take a look at him,” Rivera said. “I just got word and this is surprising to hear. He’s an explosive player who has great vertical speed and is strong going to the ball.”

After cutting Steve Smith and letting Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon walk in free agency, the Panthers receivers are basically Jerricho Cotchery and whomever they draft.

But Rivera put the Panthers in the mix.

“That is something that has to be discussed,” Rivera said. “Yeah, we’ll have to gauge the direction we can go.

“It depends on the numbers. You have to negotiate around the numbers. We’ll see what happens. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of days.”

With otherwise clear signals coming out of Charlotte, it’s also interesting to see if Rivera and Dave Gettleman are on the same page.

The Panthers are “cap challenged” — as Gettleman points out often — so it’s hard to see them being a fit.

But after cutting a figure as beloved as Smith, casting an immediate line to a player linked with reports of gang activity is an unusual move.