Ron Rivera sets his sights on 2019 with Panthers

CHARLOTTE – A quarter of the league has announced head coach departures, but Ron Rivera is not among them after the Panthers finished 7-9 in 2018.

Rivera addressed the media as the team cleared out its locker room Monday and said it's his assumption he'll be back based on recent conversations he's had with owner David Tepper. General manager Marty Hurney is also expected back in 2019.

"I just feel very fortunate," Rivera said. "I had an opportunity to visit with him and talk with him about things as far as preparation going forward. We'll continue to do that and I'll continue to work as we're working towards next season."

Rivera has been Carolina's head coach since 2011 – only six head coaches in the league have been with their respective teams longer. Rivera's record is 71-56, and he's led the Panthers to the playoffs in four of his eight seasons, including four of the last six.

"We will focus on moving forward," Rivera said. "We have to grow, we have to adapt, we have to learn. And if you don't, the truth of the matter is you become extinct."