Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 1/2/13
Hiring a general manager and making a decision on whether to keep head coach Ron Rivera are the two most pressing issues facing the Carolina Panthers, as the franchise shifts into offseason mode. But it cant go too far until the vacant GM position is filled and a decision gets made with Rivera. Once owner Jerry Richardson settles on who will run his team on and off the field, the organization must move quickly toward the 2013 season. The next GM will face several immediate questions, the first regarding Riveras future. Its possible Richardson may select a GM who shares his view of the second-year coach. The general belief: If interim GM Brandon Beane gets the job, Rivera is safe for another year. Rivera wants to return for a third season. In fairness, he had just one offseason to work with his team, as he was hired before the lockout-ridden 2011 offseason. His 13-19 overall record isnt impressive, but he arguably deseves another season with the club -- based on the state of the Carolina roster after its 2-14 season in 2010 (John Fox's final year with the Panthers) and that his 2011 and '12 teams combined for a 9-3 mark in their final six games, respectively. "As Ive said, Id like to have the opportunity to have the job," Rivera said Monday at his final weekly press conference of the season. "And thats pretty much it." More aspects in Riveras favor: The Panthers went 6-4 after general manager Marty Hurney was fired in October. Richardson said he wanted to see progress; well, that mark represents progress. And then there's the continued development of the Panthers' stars -- Cam Newton (7,920 career passing yards, 62 total touchdowns) and rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly (NFL leader in tackles last year -- 164). Once Rivera's status gets cleared up, the next order of business will be dealing with an overflowing salary cap. Carolina will be 16 million over the cap if it doesnt make any moves, so the team must cut some salaries, likely jettisoning some veterans who have become synonymous with the franchise. One cap casualty may be running back DeAngelo Williams, who signed a five-year, 43 million contract prior to the 2011 campaign and is slated to earn around 6 million next season. But since the team already has Jonathan Stewart (six-year, 37 million extension last summer) in the backfield, it stands to reason that Williams (four years older than Stewart) could be the odd man out. The Panthers simply cant afford to spend that much cash on their backfield, which includes Mike Tolbert, who inked a four-year, 10 million deal last summer. Stewart, however, missed seven games this season with an ankle injury, and Williams finished strong in December, running for 210 yards in the season finale, a 44-38 win at New Orleans. For the year, Williams rushed for 737 yards, averaging 4.3 per carry. Another option might be cutting veteran offensive tackle Jordan Gross, who will turn 33 in July and is scheduled to earn 8.7 million next season. Gross struggled at times this fall and freeing up that much cash -- along with Williams salary -- would help the franchise get close to the cap line. Another issue facing the next GM includes finding a placekicker. Carolina attempted a franchise-low 21 field goals this season, with 11 coming after Graham Gano came in to replace Justin Medlock in late November. Gano converted nine of the kicks. The team has used three kickers since waiving veteran John Kasay just prior to the start of 2011 training camp. Kasay was Carolinas kicker during its first 16 seasons of existence. Carolina has the 14th overall pick in Aprils NFL draft, and its needs are considerable. Wide receiver, defensive tackle and offensive line should be high priorities. If Rivera returns, the team will have a leader that can talk about achievement and building on some late success. If theres a change at the top, the number of questions facing the franchise will surely multiply. And until Richardson makes some moves, everything will remain in limbo.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Brady would be 'very jealous' if Manning wins Super Bowl

John Elway takes swipe at John Fox

Jets DT: I won't watch a Super Bowl 'until I play in one'

Hall of Fame coach: Stephen Curry is the best of all time

Reggie Bush on NFL future: ‘I’m not retiring’

Derek Fisher blasts Rondo over triangle offense criticism

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Marshawn Lynch hasn't spent any playing money

Ex-King says he could do 'much better job' than George Karl

Trainer thought Thomas Davis would not play in Super Bowl

Todd Gurley named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Durant, Westbrook on loss to Warriors: We're not scared

Report: Eagles interested in bringing back Nick Foles

WATCH: Tom Brady booed during Super Bowl 50 MVP ceremony

Cam Newton's cleats have 'MVP' and stats written on them

Concession prices incredibly high at Super Bowl 50

Fan at Super Bowl 50 wears awesome dual-team jersey

Skip Bayless whiffed badly on Cam Newton prediction

Stephen Curry to serve as guest drummer for Panthers

Charlie Sheen tweets advice for Johnny Manziel

Cardale Jones predicts he will play in Super Bowl

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

Marcin Gortat fires back at critic on Twitter

WATCH: Kerr told Warriors he was happy to have close game

Broncos could have tough decision with franchise tag

WATCH: Steph Curry does 'Dab' on court on eve of Super Bowl

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker