Panthers could be headed for major shakeup with owner David Tepper frustrated by 2019 performance
Tepper let his displeasure be known within the organization after the Panthers were blown out by Atlanta
One year after mulling sweeping changes to his organization, Panthers owner David Tepper is again in the process of thoroughly evaluating his franchise, league sources said, with the potential for a major shakeup coming in 2020. Tepper expressed his displeasure with the state of the team to several members of the organization after last week's blowout loss, the sources said, and may not be as inclined to hold the line should the Panthers not make a rapid turnaround.
Tepper paid about $2.3 billion cash for the Panthers prior to the 2018 season and had serious concerns with the way the team was trending in the second half last season, reaching out for confidants around the league about perhaps overhauling his hierarchy for 2019. After a solid start, the Panthers have again slumped mid-season, losing three of their last four games by a combined score of 124-62. The blowout losses are reminiscent of a year ago and the defense -- being called by head coach Ron Rivera -- is again struggling, leading several sources who know the owner well to predict changes will come after the season barring a strong finish.
Tepper was very frustrated by last week's loss to Atlanta, a team who entered the game with just two wins, the sources said, which was obvious post-game. He held an impromptu session with the local media midweek, and though he declined to address the future of Rivera or general manager Marty Hurney during the briefing, the fact he held the briefing at all left some in the organization wondering if it was a precursor to changes.
Rivera has one year left on his deal and would be heavily sought after if the Panthers were to go in a different direction. Tepper may not be inclined to offer the kind of extension Rivera's cumulative record with the Panthers suggests he is worth, and the owner may lean toward a more analytical, offensive-minded head coach, according to some who know him.
Furthermore, Tepper has been unsure of whether quarterback Cam Newton would merit another massive contract extension , and Newton has been hurt most of the last two years and also entering his final contract year in 2020. Tepper confirmed that all options are open for Newton in 2020, with several executives from other teams believing a trade is looming after the season.
Panthers brass always knew that 2019 was likely to be a defining year for them, given Tepper's eventual desire to become more hands-on with the football side of the operation after focusing on the business side in his first year at the helm. Sitting at 5-5 and currently on the outside of the NFC playoff picture with a challenging schedule looming, the import of these finals games is lost on no one.
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