Ron Rivera was fired as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers on Monday in a move that came as a surprise to some across the NFL because of the timing. Rivera had long been on the hot seat, though, so his firing was inevitable.
With Rivera gone, here's a look at four candidates who could be in line to replace him.
Rhule has done tremendous work as the head coach at Baylor, turning the program from a doormat to playing in the Big 12 title game. That came on the heels on turning Temple into a force in the American Athletic Conference. He's in line to move up beyond Waco at this point and he's been rumored to have eyes for the NFL-- he almost got the Jets job last year. The 44-year-old has likely reached his ceiling at Baylor.
The benefit of Rhule is that he's been an assistant for different position groups on both sides of the ball during his 20 years of coaching. He can assist with every part of practice and knows what he's looking for from each unit. He'd be a risk given his scant NFL experience (one season with the Giants) but the upside here is huge.
Roman is a hot name in NFL circles given what he's done with Lamar Jackson as the Ravens' offensive coordinator. Roman also earned a solid reputation as OC of the 49ers from 2011 through 2014 under Jim Harbaugh. The 47-year-old has nearly 20 years of NFL coaching experience and has been an offensive coordinator three times. Two of those runs have been successful but his stint with the Bills from 2015 to 2016 was not.
It's clear Roman knows how to build a modern NFL offense, specifically one for a mobile quarterback. He has a track record and has seemed to perfect his system in Baltimore. Whether the Panthers go all-in on Kyle Allen or stick with Cam Newton, Roman would be a great point person to build with.
Bieniemy is a rising star in the NFL coaching ranks as his work with the Kansas City Chiefs over the last seven years under Andy Reid has given him some helium. He started as the team's running backs coach, but became the offensive coordinator in 2018 just in time for Patrick Mahomes to explode onto the scene.
Bieniemy is a former NFL running back and relates to players well. The 50-year-old commands respect despite his diminutive stature (5-foot-7). He has college and NFL experience; prior to this stretch with the Chiefs, he was the Vikings running backs coach from 2006 through 2010, and helped Adrian Peterson become one of the most dominant backs in NFL history.
Bieniemy getting the chance to build an offense around Newton or Allen and the multi-dimensional Christian McCaffrey could be lethal.
Saleh is yet another hot, rising name who has had a stellar showing in 2019. As the defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, the 40-year-old has arguably developed the NFL's best unit.
Saleh spent six seasons with the Houston Texans as an assistant before spending three seasons learning under Pete Carroll in Seattle, then coached linebackers in Jacksonville from 2014 through 2016. He took over as the 49ers' defensive coordinator in 2017 and has been oustanding.
If Carolina wants another defense-first coach, Saleh might be the best option available.