Panthers owner David Tepper said Tuesday he fired Ron Rivera with a month left in the season so he wouldn't lose a competitive advantage in trying to find his next head coach (here's a list of possible candidates for the Panthers job). But Tepper also did Rivera a big favor if the ex-Panthers coach wants to land a gig somewhere else in 2020, because Rivera can now officially put his name in the hat for various jobs around the league.
It's possible Rivera wants to take some time away from football. But it seems very logical, in the current NFL climate, for the Riverboat to find a new port.
There are any number of teams floundering right now, in need of a stable presence, which is exactly what Rivera would bring. He has multiple division titles and a Super Bowl appearance on his resume. He will be a coveted coach in a market that is often lacking in quality names.
Let's look at some landing spots for Rivera. Go ahead and listen to our emergency Ron Rivera Fired podcast below and subscribe here to get the Pick Six Podcast in your ears eight times a week.
The most obvious option for a number of reasons, chief being the presence of GM Dave Gettleman. The Giants are a disaster this season, winning just two games under Pat Shurmur after a bad first year, and it's becoming more and more clear ownership could/would/will be willing to move on from Shurmur. Look at his coaching record -- 17-44 for his career going into Week 14 -- and it becomes difficult to justify why he needs a third season in New York. Gettleman previously worked with Rivera in Carolina, where the duo combined to take the Panthers to the Super Bowl. Gettleman would be fired by Jerry Richardson ahead of the 2017 season and start working for the Giants before 2018. He controversially drafted Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick, but may have salvaged passing on a quarterback that year by picking up Daniel Jones in 2019. The jury is still out on everyone involved, but Rivera would be comfortable not shaking things up too much, having previously worked with Mike Shula. His stoic nature would go over well with the Giants organization. Rivera's demeanor with the media would play a lot better than Shurmur in New York as well.
The Jets have made it abundantly clear they don't plan on moving on from Adam Gase, but words only mean so much in the middle of an NFL season. The Jets have been a pretty big laughingstock this season and hit another bump in the road on Sunday after a few promising games with a brutal loss to the Bengals. The Jets had some issues in the hiring process the last time around, but have since added Joe Douglas as the GM. I think they'll probably stick with Gase, but I wouldn't rule this out. Sam Darnold at quarterback along with a few interesting pieces on defense makes this an attractive job.
Again, another situation where we don't know what will happen with the head coach. But Freddie Kitchens in his first year has been an unmitigated disaster, and it's hard to imagine the Browns aren't at least thinking about what they could do for an upgrade this offseason. John Dorsey may not want to shake things up after just a single year, but it's not hard to picture him and Rivera working well together. If Rivera could find an offensive coordinator to bring out the best in Baker Mayfield, he could focus on the defense, which has a plethora of dynamic players to work with. Rivera isn't the king of clock management/in-game strategy, but moving from Kitchens to Rivera this past season probably would have resulted in this team making the playoffs, or at least being in the hunt. Cleveland ownership and the front office have to at least be having the conversation in the wake of Rivera's firing.
From one mid-90's expansion franchise to another! It's believed the Jaguars are going to hit the reset button on the front office and coaching staff in the wake of another disastrous season. The defense has cratered from the once-great unit that nearly took Jacksonville to a Super Bowl. Maybe Rivera is viewed as a stabilizing force capable of quickly rejuvenating the Jags on that side of the ball while also bringing a fresh approach to a franchise that sorely needs to string together a couple of relevant seasons (worth noting here: Rivera has never had back-to-back winning seasons). If the Jaguars are open, it's easy to see Shad Khan introducing Rivera as the new guiding face for this club.
Rivera actually left the Chargers for the Panthers job back in 2011, having taken over for Wade Phillips and done an excellent job running the defense in San Diego. The Chargers are about to embark on a rebuild of sorts and Anthony Lynn has been anything but consistent. We have no idea whether or not Philip Rivers will be on the roster, and that could certainly impact Rivera's decision as to whether or not he would want to take this job.
Bit of a wild card here, but Arthur Blank has seen Rivera work and seen him win close up. There could be some revenge interest for Rivera to take this gig, he would stay in the NFC where he's comfortable, he wouldn't have to move far and he would have what amounts to a plug-and-play offense with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. If he could figure out the defense with the Falcons in a way that Dan Quinn -- who is believed to be fired after the season barring a surprising turn of events -- the Falcons could quickly become a contender again. Rivera may be too similar to Quinn for Blank to get on board, but I wouldn't totally rule this option out.
They are technically going to be looking for a coach this offseason. I would be surprised if Rivera took this job, given all that comes with this job, if all the other jobs above are open. He wouldn't have to move far and there are a lot of nice defensive pieces along with a young quarterback. It would be a surprise though.