Jerry Richardson is competitive, but when it comes to coaching salary,
there's often a disconnect from that competitiveness.
So 2013's make or break year for the current regime has some noteworthy
history behind it, and that history isn't so great. It's far from the
first time that Richardson has kept a coach he wasn't sold on, and it's
difficult to find much positivity in the prior examples. Consider:
*1998 - Dom Capers had recently signed a so-called contract for life;
1997 was not cause for firing, by any means, but the team had spent on
some free agents (Ray Seals, Michael Barrow, Ernie Mills) and let some
incumbents go that had produced, with locker room leadership (Howard
Griffith, Mark Carrier, Greg Kragen, Gerald Williams). So 1998 came
with a mandate of win at all costs - so Carolina racheted up the money,
and Capers had the purse strings this year, so the team blew it out.
Doug Evans was supposed to finish out the secondary, at big money; the
team threw the house at the DL problem, a total of 3 #1s, and 2 3rd
rounders, to get Sean Gilbert, Jason Peter, Chuck Wiley, and Mitch
The result? A released QB (Kerry Collins), a cap situation that would
end up losing Blake Brockermeyer a year later; no 1st round pick to take
advantage of the poor year.
*2001 - coming off a bizarre spend on aging DL (Chuck Wiley, Eric
Swann, Reggie White) to fix a 1999 defense lacking in talent, 2000 saw
Steve Beuerlein's shoulder not responding to a very late offseason
surgery and a Patrick Jeffers injury. Richardson was unhappy with
George Seifert but didn't want to pay him - so the season was a building
year toward 2002 and the NFC South. It left Seifert without many WCO
pieces, and the drafting of a ton of defenders that wouldn't be ready to
save his job.
Result? Historic losing, Seifert mailing it in, the ending of various
QB's careers that were waiting for Beuerlein's own time to end; the
start of a Super Bowl losing team.
*2007, 2009 - you could argue that the 2007 and 2009 seasons were both
make-or-break John Fox seasons that squeaked by, thanks to late season
surges. Depends on whether you think he'd have been fired after either,
really (in my opinion, no to 07, maybe to 09). He did what was
required, but failures in 2009 helped cause 2010, in a way that Seifert
and Capers didn't have.
*2010 - a disaster in the making, it combined Richardson's stubbornness
with Fox's demanding to get paid, to go with the CBA issues hemming the
purse strings. By 2009, JR had reserved what Fox could do with staff,
and the team really didn't sign anyone of worth in free agency in 2009
Result? A largely wasted year (or couple of years, if you feel like
Marty Hurney should've gone with Fox) in 2010, and a number of draft
picks that didn't fit the future (the few that worked out). A cap
situation resolved, that went on to paying existing players (some
deserved, some not).
So that leaves 2013. The past doesn't doom Ron Rivera (and I hope it
doesn't). But will Richardson reserve some of Dave Gettleman's buying
power in anticipation of Rivera's potential departure? With the team
already reserving some of Rivera's abilities (offering some coaches only
one year deals), what else will hamstring him?
And in the end, while it might cost more to provide a potentially
doomed coach what he feels he needs, why not try? If a coach is on
short time, why not go ahead and drop him? I wouldn't have fired
Rivera, but it's hard to consider wasting a year if he's not going to
get proper support.