By: Danny Cox

Deep in the middle of the wild card round of the NFL playoffs, there is a lot of drama unfolding, but it really has nothing to do with the postseason. With Black Monday taking down a lot of coaches and opening up numerous top positions, the drama has to do with “who will be where” in 2013.

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Panthers staying with Ron Rivera for at least one more season

Even though there were coaches fired for doing less, Ron Rivera won’t have to look for a job for 2013. The Carolina Panthers have decided to stick it out with their head coach after he finished the season strong following an abysmal start to 2012.

Rivera met with Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and was informed that he would return for the 2013 season. There are two years left on Richardson’s current contract.

Carolina began the season at 1-5, and that was when general manager Marty Hurney was given his walking papers. Rivera was also told at the time that Carolina needed to be “trending upward” for the rest of the season. That is exactly what happened as the team finished on a 6-4 run with four straight victories to end the season.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 17:  Fans hold up signs with the face of suspended Head Coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 17, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Sean Payton and Roger Goodell not likely to meet before the Super Bowl

The New Orleans Saints recently agreed with Sean Payton for a new five-year contract extension that is expected to pay him more than $8 million per season. That should virtually make him the highest paid coach in the NFL, but he still doesn’t know when he’ll actually be allowed to return to work.

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Payton is eligible to apply for reinstatement the day after the Super Bowl – which is Feb. 3, 2013 – but then he would still have to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Sources currently say that it is “very doubtful” a meeting will happen between the two before the Super Bowl.

Another source says outright that it just won’t happen until after the championship game at the very least. Goodell said back in December that the discussions on Payton‘s reinstatement would be more focused after the holidays. It appears as if he meant way after the holidays.

Lovie Smith interviews for head coaching position with Buffalo Bills

Lovie Smith was recently fired by the Chicago Bears for just not getting it done even though the team always was a competitor. Now, he may end up trying to turn the Buffalo Bills around and making them into a contender in the challenging AFC. Smith interviewed with the Bills on Friday along with two other candidates.

Other candidates interviewed on Friday were Chip Kelly of Oregon and Doug Marrone of Syracuse. It has been reported since his firing that Smith was actually interested in the vacant head coaching spot in Buffalo. There was no surprise in this meeting on Friday.

If Smith were to be hired by the Bills, it is the hope and expectation that improvement would come from the defensive minded coach. Smith kept the defense of the Chicago Bears as a feared unit, and the Bills desperately need someone to do the same for them.

There was no word on just how long the interviews lasted or how they went, but they already have Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on their radar for the next interview. Whoever is hired in Buffalo will be their fifth head coach since the 2001 season.

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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on