Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Panthers must extend contract of coach Ron Rivera

Panther coach Ron Rivera is about to finish up the third year on his original four-year contract, which was worth a reported $11.2 million.

If he does not get an extension in the offseason, a veil of uncertainty would float over the 2014 season. You may remember that the last time the Panthers didn't extend a coach's contract when it got close to expiring, they let time run out on head coach John Fox -- who posted a 2-14 record in his terrible lame-duck year of 2010.

Rivera doesn't deserve that uncertainty. What he deserves is a new deal.

The coach did a tremendous job in 2013, getting the Panthers to 12 wins, an NFC South division championship and their first playoff spot since 2008 after a 1-3 start. The home playoff loss to San Francisco should not overshadow those accomplishments.

Rivera is a popular coach. Among players, staff, fans or media, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has had personal contact with Rivera and doesn't like him. But I'm not writing this because he's a good guy. I'm writing it because he's a very good coach, and one who has steadily gotten better since his rookie year as a head coach in 2011.

Rivera's teams have improved from 6-10 to 7-9 to 12-5 this past season. He has morphed from a by-the-book conservative coach to "Riverboat Ron" -- a coach who gambles when necessary and isn't nearly as predictable as he used to be.

Rivera also makes no secret of the fact that he is still learning to be a great head coach. That is a plateau he has not reached yet, but one day I believe he could.

Doing things like taking players to dinner and asking them their honest opinions about everything that goes on with the team is more evidence of that. Rivera isn't a "my-way-or-the-highway" type guy, and his players appreciate that. It is part of the reason they have bought so completely into his philosophy.

Rivera plans to start his series of candid dinners beginning Wednesday with offensive tackle Jordan Gross and several of his teammates, as he tries to get impressions of what went right and wrong in 2013.

How much money should he make with this extension? I don't pretend to know, but he should get a substantial raise -- enough to put him in the top half of head coach pay in the league.

A coach with obvious job security is more attractive to the best free agents, who want to know that the team they are about to sign with isn't about to pull the plug and install an entirely new system one year later.

Panther general manager Dave Gettleman praised Rivera in an end-of-season news conference Tuesday. "I have ultimate faith in Ron," Gettleman said.

But the general manager also would not discuss Rivera's contractual status Tuesday nor entertain questions about whether the team would extend the head coach's contract.

This is a no-brainer, though. It is much less complicated than, say, the Greg Hardy contract situation.

Rivera's pay won't count against the salary cap. He's the captain of a ship that is finally pointed away from the icebergs and toward the islands. It's time to give the man a contract extension.


Anonymous said...

Scott, there has to be some thought given to releasing Shula and finding a new OC...he was predictable and poor at calling plays during the game...it has to be a concern. All the blame cannot fall on no receivers/bad o-line.

Anonymous said...

He wins one out of 3 seasons, that does not necessarily mean he needs an extension. I'm still not sold on this coaching staff. As soon as he gets the extension, he loses what little edge we have. Put an offense on the field that can score consistently to go with that defense and then let's talk extension.

Anonymous said...

What the heck is wrong with letting him finish the contract and then going from there? He does seem to be a good coach, but let him show that this season was not a fluke. If his performance is impacted by the "uncertainly" of not getting an extension, then that says all you need to know. Then again, I think that all players and coaches should be on one year deals anyway.

Anonymous said...

Give Rivera an extension. He deserves it. He is a great coach who is loved by the players, fans and many organizations. If he is not given an extension in the offseason he could easily decline an extension during the year. Then even if he has another 12-4 season he could then go to the highest bidder.

joe said...

You want to really talk about next year,Next season we better bring in some great talent at WR or we will not make the playoffs next year, Why is it that I`m the only Panther fan that seems to understand Smith is another year older next year and at his age he`s the only threat we have at the position. I feel for us to get to the super bowl next year we`ve got to land a go to receiver, maybe 2 receivers, Smith would be best moved to #3 or #2 receiver,I know your getting upset with that comment but if you fans really desire us to get to and win a super bowl were not going to do it with a 36 year old receiver that injures himself running a route...get real people.We are stacked at running back but they produce no threat which is either the line coaches fault or we don`t have the talent on the line to open up holes which was not even mentioned this season???I question if we should trade 1 of our great backs for a Anquan Boldwin type receiver so we can fill this void quickly with a trade and not be hurt with the salary cap issue.I`m just say`in there is a solution to every problem now lets see what Gettleman can really do for the Panthers next season. Show us your for real Gettleman.

Naslund Starmine said...

"If he does not get an extension in the offseason, a veil of uncertainty would float over the 2014 season."

So what?

This franchise has never had winning seasons back-to-back, let Rivera prove he can do it and if he does, then extend him.

Personally I don't think he's the man to take this team to the next level.

Anonymous said...

The only way we make the playoffs back to back for the first time in franchise history is to land a #1 starting receiver through free agency thats proven and still has his legs and is a threat every down. A receiver that is brought in here not to help Smith but to help the TEAM and move Smith to # 3 or # 2 receiver,Yes Smith is still effective but we need a young Steve Smith type to go with the old Smith and then we get to the next level. If we sign La fell then its a statment we are not even going to try to bring in a threat at WR position and we will most likely not improve next year there by not making the play offs.We also need a shutdown corner.

Anonymous said...

I think Steve would never admit it but he sees his chances to ever get a super bowl ring slipping away fast,I honestly think he would embrace a move to bring in a #1 receiver to help the team get to and win the super bowl before mother time takes it from him. Steve has fault hard for this team and you know he wants it bad so yes considering I believe it would`nt bother that this new receiver got more catches more yards and more TD than Steve just so Steve was a part of it and at the end of the day we win and have a super bowl victory . What a way to end a career by going out on top.