The Panthers have plenty of work to do this offseason, with 15 unrestricted free agents.
But they also want to hang onto a key part who has a year left on his deal.
According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers have reached out to coach Ron Rivera to start talks about a contract extension.
Rivera’s entering the final year of a four-year, $11.2 million deal. He’s earned plenty of praise for turning the Panthers around this year, leading them to a 12-4 record and the NFC South title.
But he also works for an owner in Jerry Richardson who flips long-term extensions for coaches around like manhole covers.
Part of the reason Broncos coach John Fox is in New Jersey tonight and not in his old house in Charlotte is because Richardson hesitated to pay him like an elite coach without back-to-back winning seasons on his resume.
So as excited as the Panthers might be about the recent results, the 13-19 record entering the year won’t be forgotten either.
Much like the Rex Ryan “extension” with the Jets, the devil will be in the details on this one. It wouldn’t be fair to Rivera to make him enter a lame duck season, but it would also be a surprise if he got a lucrative long-term deal on the back of one good year and two bad ones.
Unless Richardson abandons the way he’s done business in the past, a shorter-term deal seems more likely.