The Atlanta Falcons have hired the search firm Korn Ferry to identify head-coaching candidates in the event the team makes a head-coaching change, league sources told ESPN.
Current coach Mike Smith was hired in 2008 after serving as the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator from 2003-07.
The Falcons, 6-9 this season, can win the NFC South and host a playoff game if they beat the Panthers on Sunday. They will miss the playoffs with a loss.
Smith was asked Monday if the regular-season finale could decide his future.
"I know that that's a subject that everybody wants to talk about and I said, I don't know four or five weeks ago -- I hope this is the last time that I have to answer it -- I'm going to prepare just like I've done for the seven years that I've been here," Smith said. "My focus is on winning football games and winning the next football game. And I'm going to continue to do that until Arthur Blank tells me differently."
During his first five seasons at the helm from 2008-12, Smith compiled a 56-24 regular-season record, which was the second-best mark over that time period. His total included three consecutive playoff appearances and two NFC South titles. Smith has a 1-4 postseason record.
After a rough 2013 campaign, the Falcons figured to rebound this season, with a healthy Julio Jones back in the lineup and a renewed commitment to being bigger and stronger along the offensive and defensive lines. Instead, the Falcons suffered through yet another five-game losing streak after starting the season 2-1, including a 37-34 season-opening win over the rival Saints.
ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen and ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure contributed to this report.