Panthers sign Rivera to 3-year extension

Charlotte, NC ( - The Carolina Panthers have signed coach Ron Rivera to a three-year extension.

The deal, announced Tuesday, runs through the 2017 season and comes on the heels of Rivera's most successful season as Panthers coach.

Carolina, behind quarterback Cam Newton, went 12-4 and won the NFC South in Rivera's third season at the helm.

Rivera, who is 25-23 as the Panthers coach, said he appreciates "the support and confidence" in him shown by team owner Jerry Richardson and general manager Dave Gettleman.

The Panthers have improved each year under Rivera and Newton, who both joined the team in 2011 -- Rivera as John Fox's replacement and Newton as the No. 1 draft pick.

"I have been very clear about how much I have enjoyed living in Charlotte and working for this organization," Rivera said in a statement.

The Panthers announced last January that Rivera -- whose job security had been the topic of speculation after an underwhelming 7-9 season that began with six losses in the first seven games -- would be back.

Not much longer than a year later, the team's first trip to the playoffs since 2008 has earned Rivera an extension.

"Any success we have enjoyed is the result of a team effort by players, coaches, scouts and the entire organization, and our ultimate goal remains winning the Super Bowl," Rivera said.

The Panthers have won 16 of their last 20 regular-season games dating back to a four-game winning streak to end the 2012 season.

They had a franchise-record eight-game winning streak this season and earned the NFC's No. 2 seed, but lost 23-10 to San Francisco in the divisional round.