Don't look for the Carolina Panthers to let Ron Rivera go through the final year of his contact as a lame duck coach.
The Charlotte Observer reported on Sunday from the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, where Rivera and his staff are coaching the annual all-star game, that according to league sources the team has reached out to the third-year coach to begin negotiations on an extension.
Asked about a possible extension by phone from Hawaii on Friday, Rivera told ESPN.com: "Once everything settles down that will be addressed. Right now, I'm out here. Dave's [general manager Dave Gettleman] at the Senior Bowl. Everything happens in time."
Rivera, 52, signed a four-year deal worth $11.2 million in 2011. As I wrote after the Panthers finished 12-5 with a loss to San Francisco in the NFC divisional playoffs, the team needs to extend Rivera's deal now.
The team did not extend John Fox in the final year of his contract in 2010 and the Panthers went 2-14. Fox then went to Denver, where he is preparing the Broncos for the Super Bowl.
Rivera went 6-10 and 7-9 in his first two seasons. There was speculation he wouldn't survive this season after a 1-3 start.
Carolina then won eight straight games and 11 of its final 12 in the regular season to win the NFC South title and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Asked about Rivera's contract following the season, Gettleman said, "I have ultimate faith in Ron moving forward. How’s that?"