"I can't worry about it," Rivera told Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer on Tuesday. "But it's there. To a degree, it is that white elephant in the room."
Armed with a 13-19 record after two seasons, Rivera isn't promised a fourth year in Carolina if 2013 swivels south. Keep in mind that Panthers owner Jerry Richardson waited six long days before choosing to stick with his coach for another year.
"It can happen at any moment," Rivera said. "In the last few years, we've seen coaches get fired after their first year, after their second year and after successful years. So I don't think it's any different. I'm not going to spend time worrying about it."
The guiding hope is the two recent drafts that produced a rising star at quarterback in Cam Newton and one of the NFL's brightest young linebackers in Luke Kuechly. But too many position groups -- especially the secondary and paper-thin receiving corps -- threaten to hold back this outfit.
Rivera deserves this third season. It's easy to forget he inherited a 2-14 squad. Years ago, Rivera would have been treated with more patience as he installed his program, but not anymore. In today's NFL, white elephants roam free.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.