Sources: Rivera to be named Carolina coach
The Panthers are now putting the "finishing touches" on their agreement with Rivera.
Rivera, a former linebacker with the Bears and a member of Chicago's Super Bowl-winning team in 1985, has been with the Chargers since midway through the 2008 season. Rivera also was the Bears' defensive coordinator from 2004 to '06.
He has plenty of experience interviewing for head-coaching jobs, with Carolina marking the ninth team to talk to him over the years.
The Panthers are looking for the fourth coach in their 16-year history after Panthers owner Jerry Richardson decided not to bring back John Fox after his ninth season ended with an NFL-worst 2-14 record.
Richardson said last week that while he was most concerned with his team's league-worst offense, it wouldn't stop the Panthers from hiring a defensive-minded coach as long as he had a strong offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
"We're putting a very high priority on the offense and that can be accomplished without having an offensive head coach," Richardson said.
The son of a U.S. Army officer, Rivera lived in Germany, Panama, Washington, Maryland and California growing up and has a diverse coaching background, working with both the 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes.