The Panthers announced the move 12 games into the 2019 season. Rivera had been the coach of the Panthers since 2011, and led the team to the Super Bowl during the 2015 season. The team went 15-1 that year and Newton won the NFL MVP award. The team is 5-7 this season.
Newton reacted to the news on his Instagram account.
“Will be forever grateful because of the impact you had on my life … Thank you for giving me an opportunity. Thank you for believing in me. I can go on and on but most importantly; thank you for allowing me to be me,” he wrote on his Instagram Stories. “This one hurt deep.”
Rivera leaves Carolina as the organization’s all-time winningest coach. He was 76-63-1 in the regular season and 3-4 in the postseason. However, the Panthers are bound to miss the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.
“I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team,” Panthers owner David Tepper said in a statement. “I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and to this community.”
With Rivera gone, the spotlight will be on whether the Panthers decide to keep Newton for 2020. The Auburn product expressed his desire last week to stay in Carolina.
“Charlotte is home. Charlotte is a place I know people know me. They're not just assuming. They know how I am. They know my energy. They know what I like and what I don't like. For me to have that type of presence, it just reminds me that ... it's right,” he said, according to ESPN.
“We're looking forward to countless more years in Charlotte to impact the community in ways outside of the game of football."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.