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Pat Shurmur

Pat Shurmur

The quarterback whisperer could be coming to the New York Giants. He seems headed in that direction, barring any bumps in the road or major detours.

The Giants’ coaching search has put the spotlight on Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Yes, the same Pat Shurmur who was the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator when Nick Foles threw 27 touchdown passes and two interceptions in 2013. The same coach who helped Sam Bradford have a career year last season and Case Keenum enjoy the same this season.

This would seem to bode well for whomever the Giants’ quarterbacks are next season and beyond, whether it be Eli Manning, Davis Webb, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold — and let’s not count out Keenum — or anyone else that might enter the picture. Shurmur was trained and raised in the NFL by Andy Reid, who himself is pretty good at mentoring quarterbacks. Shurmur worked under Chip Kelly, who seems to know a thing or two about that, as well.

Shurmur has put it all together to become a well-respected offensive mind. His résumé pops because of his quarterback expertise.

What might that mean for the Giants if he lands with New York?

Eli Manning

Shurmur runs an offense that employs plenty of West Coast concepts. This would make the transition relatively smooth if the Giants and Shurmur elected to bring back Manning for at least one more season, which appears likely, as long as Manning is willing. And maybe Shurmur could get the most out of Manning. Manning hasn’t played particularly well the past two seasons, but maybe Shurmur could design an offense that gets the ball in the New York playmakers’ hands quickly. It’s not as if the Giants lack playmakers, with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram leading the way. For Manning, this potential hire is a positive; it probably would increase his chances of remaining with the only team he has played with for at least another season.

The No. 2 pick

There is a strong chance the Giants will select a quarterback with the second-overall pick in this year’s NFL draft. Darnold and Rosen are considered top prospects, and this kind of opportunity doesn’t come around often. The Giants hope they won’t be drafting this high again next year; if they do, it wouldn’t bode well for Shurmur. When Shurmur was the head coach in Cleveland, the team did select a quarterback in the first round: The Browns took Brandon Weeden with the 22nd pick in 2012. That didn’t work out well. But this time around, Shurmur’s team would have a much higher pick and a chance to find a franchise quarterback. One can see Shurmur looking for something akin to a Doug Pederson-Carson Wentz situation in New York.

Davis Webb

Let’s not forget the Giants already have a young quarterback with a big arm and top-notch work ethic on their roster. Webb was last year’s third-round draft pick, and he is 22 years old. There is something there for Shurmur to work with and mold into a quality NFL starter. Webb might be the biggest beneficiary of all if Shurmur does make it to the Giants. Webb is bound to become a better player quickly while working with the quarterback whisperer.

Case Keenum

Hey, Keenum is set to become a free agent at the end of this season. Who knows how that plays out, even if the Vikings reach the Super Bowl. It already has been reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Keenum could join Shurmur in a move if it is with a QB-needy team. The Giants could fall into that category if Manning sees the writing on the wall and decides not to return; it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.


Teddy Bridgewater? Bradford? Geno Smith? Who knows how this offseason will work out with GM Dave Gettleman, now in charge of personnel decisions for the Giants. But any quarterbacks who eventually land with the Giants would appear to be in good hands if Shurmur is there to work with them.

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FRISCO, Texas — Offensive line coach Frank Pollack will not be back with the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, as he joined the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday.

It is the sixth change on Jason Garrett’s staff since the season ended and perhaps the most significant, because of the resources the Cowboys have put in their offensive line and their desire to be a run-first team.

Paul Alexander, who spent more than 20 years with the Cincinnati Bengals, is interviewing with the Cowboys as Pollack’s replacement, according to a source. A source said Tom Cable, who was fired by the Seattle Seahawks and was a college teammate of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, is also a candidate.

Assistant offensive line coach Marc Colombo, who played for the Cowboys from 2005-10, will also be in the mix.

Pollack took over for Bill Callahan after the 2014 season. Dallas was in the top 10 in rushing — including second in both 2016 and 2017 — in each of Pollack’s three seasons as the line coach.

During Pollack’s tenure, left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin made the Pro Bowl each season and all three were first-team All-Pro picks in 2016. Pollack also oversaw the move of La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle in 2017.

Pass protection, however, was an issue in 2017. Dak Prescott was sacked 32 times after he was sacked 25 times as a rookie. The Cowboys missed Smith for three full games and all but three snaps of a fourth. In the first game Smith missed, Prescott was sacked eight times by the Atlanta Falcons, with backup tackles Chaz Green and Byron Bell giving up six sacks. Without Smith on the field, Prescott threw one touchdown pass. The protection was better with Smith on the field, but Prescott’s yard per attempt dropped from 8 to 6.8 in 2017.

Pollack joined the Cowboys in 2013 as Callahan’s assistant offensive line coach. When Callahan left for the Washington Redskins, Garrett promoted Pollack, who is a stickler for details and technique.

Pollack joins special-teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, wide receivers coach Derek Dooley, quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, secondary coach Joe Baker and tight ends coach Steve Loney as coaches not returning. Bisaccia was named the special-teams coach with the Oakland Raiders, and Dooley became the offensive coordinator at Missouri. Loney is retiring, and Wilson and Baker had expiring contracts.

Running backs coach Gary Brown, whose contract ran out, also reportedly interviewed with the Raiders and has drawn interest from at least one more team. The Cowboys, however, want to keep Brown. Passing game coordinator/linebackers coach Matt Eberflus and secondary coach Greg Jackson also have expiring contracts.

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PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles are the first top seed in NFL history to enter its opening playoff game as an underdog.

According to standout defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, it’s just another example of this Eagles team not getting its proper respect.

“We’ve been disrespected all year,” he said. “Our record can speak for itself. We’re a team that’s been disrespected week in and week out, and we just come out and ring the bell every week.”

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook set the opening line at minus-2.5 in favor of the sixth-seeded Falcons, who upset the Los Angeles Rams in the wild-card round to advance.

Since 1975, when the NFL began basing home-field advantage on teams’ regular-season winning percentage, no No. 1 seed has ever been an underdog in its first playoff game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Until now.

“It just puts a bigger chip on our shoulder and just adds fuel to the fire, and that’s what this team, obviously, has been going off of all year,” Cox said, “people doubting us every week. So we just want to go out and shut those doubters up.”

Westgate Superbook oddsmaker Ed Salmons estimates the Eagles could have been as much as a 6.5-point favorite over the Falcons with a healthy Carson Wentz. The fact that Wentz is out with a torn ACL is clearly having a major impact on public perception. So, too, has the recent play of backup Nick Foles. He’s 23-of-49 (47 percent) for 202 yards with a TD over his past five quarters of work.

Following a Christmas night win over the Oakland Raiders, in which Foles and the offense struggled, right tackle Lane Johnson faced a string of questions about his unit’s down play despite the fact that the Eagles had just improved to 13-2. He later told reporters that he was done talking for the year, but he rescinded that a week later after he’d cooled off.

“Obviously I wasn’t happy with the way we performed, but then again, we are where we are and it’s kind of, nothing is ever good enough,” he said last week. “There’s kind of pros and cons to it. I think it’s a good motivator. It’ll piss you off and get a lot of guys fired up, and that’s what it did for me.”

Not everyone is using external forces as motivation. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz insists he has no idea in a given week whether his team is a favorite or underdog, and he’s not going to start paying attention to that now.

“The game’s going to be about preparing well, the game’s going to be about executing on Saturday,” he said, “and the teams that do that the best are going to win, not the team that got picked by the most number of analysts or experts or what the simulation games say or any of that stuff. That has zero bearing on the game for us.”

But it is serving as good bulletin-board material for some.

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Packers decided to stay within the Ron Wolf scouting tree for their next general manager, but it’s not his son, Eliot. Instead, the more experienced Brian Gutekunst was promoted to replace Ted Thompson.

Gutekunst will receive a five-year contract, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Gutekunst was set to interview for the Texans’ general manager vacancy Sunday. The Houston Chronicle first reported the news of the Packers’ decision to hire Gutekunst as GM.

The 44-year-old had been the Packers’ director of player personnel since 2016. He joined the Packers in 1998, when he was hired as an area scout by Wolf, the Hall of Fame general manager, and served in that role for 13 years. Previous to his last promotion, he was the director of college scouting from 2012 to ’15.

Packers president Mark Murphy picked Gutekunst over the younger Wolf, 35, and another in-house candidate, Russ Ball (the team’s vice president of football operations/player finance), and former Bills GM Doug Whaley.

Had the Packers hired Ball, they would have broken from the Wolf scouting tree by hiring a GM without a background in player personnel and talent evaluation. According to multiple sources, Ball had taken on a larger role in that area over the last two years as Thompson, 64, cut back on his duties in part because of his age and his health.

The Packers also contacted two of their former scouts who are current GMs — John Schneider (Seattle) and Reggie McKenzie (Oakland). They were denied permission to interview Schneider, while McKenzie declined.

The Packers risked losing Gutekunst and Wolf if they hired Ball. It’s still possible Wolf will leave the organization. They also already lost senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith to the Browns last week, and it’s possible Wolf would join him to work under former Packers personnel executive John Dorsey.

The Packers would like to retain Ball in a high-level position.

While there could be turnover in the scouting department, this should stabilize the coaching situation. According to a source, coach Mike McCarthy is comfortable working with Gutekunst. McCarthy is under contract through the 2019 season after he signed a one-year extension late this season.

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As the Seahawks enter the offseason, here’s an overview of important NFL dates for the 2018 League year, courtesy of All dates are subject to change.

January 27: Senior Bowl, Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama.

January 28: NFL Pro Bowl, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida. The Seahawks had four players earn Pro Bowl recognition for their play this past season.

February 20: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.

February 27-March 5: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana.

March 6: Prior to 1 p.m. PT, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.

March 14: The 2018 league year, free agency period, and trading period begins at 1 p.m. PT.

March 25-28: Annual League Meeting, Orlando, Florida.

April 16: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.

April 26-28: 2018 NFL Draft, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX. The Seahawks own the No. 18 overall pick.

May 4-7 or May 11-14:: Clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.

May 14: Rookie Football Development Programs begin.

May 17-20: NFLPA Rookie Premiere. Invited Rookies (typically, first and/or second-round selections) must be permitted by their respective clubs to attend. Such players are unavailable for offseason workouts, OTA days, and minicamps during this period.

May 21-23: Spring League Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia.

Late-June: Rookie Transition Program to be held at individual clubs. Attendance is mandatory for all rookies.

July 16: At 1 p.m. PT, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2018 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.

Mid-July: Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for Veteran players.

Late-July or Early-August: Training camp opens.

Late-July or Early-August: Training camp opens.

August 2: Hall of Fame Game, Canton, Ohio.

August 2-5: Hall of Fame Weekend, Canton, Ohio. Former Seahawks draft picks Steve Hutchinson and Kevin Mawae are finalists for the Class of 2018.

September 1: Prior to 1 p.m. PT, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players.

September 2: Clubs may establish a practice squad of 10 players.

September 6, 9-10: Regular season opens. The exact dates and times of each game will be released in the spring, but the Seahawks’ 2018 home and road opponents are already set.

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone doesn’t want to talk about his short stint with — and abrupt departure from — the Buffalo Bills in advance of the teams’ matchup Sunday in the first round of the playoffs.

That’s not only a waste of time, he said, but also irresponsible and a disservice to his assistant coaches and players.

“What’s past is past,” Marrone said Monday. “I’ll tell you guys the truth. … This stuff happened so long ago, OK? There’s obviously been a lot of stuff out there. That stuff is done. It’s over. I can’t put it any simpler than that. So I’m not going to take away my primary responsibility to look back on a situation that occurred, what, three years ago.

“If I do that, then I shouldn’t be the coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

Marrone spent two seasons as the head coach in Buffalo and led the Bills to a 9-7 record in 2014, their first winning season in a decade. He then opted out of his contract because of uncertainty over possible organizational changes after the team was purchased by Terry and Kim Pegula following founder Ralph Wilson’s death.

The clause in his contract that allowed Marrone to do that also guaranteed his $4 million salary in 2015, which he collected even after being hired as the Jaguars’ offensive line coach roughly a month after his resignation.

Marrone became the Jaguars’ interim head coach after Gus Bradley was fired on Dec. 18, 2016, and he was hired permanently on Jan. 9. He guided the Jaguars to a 10-6 record and an AFC South title this season, the franchise’s first division championship since 1999.

The Jaguars will play host to the Bills on Sunday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville’s first playoff appearance since 2007. So, naturally, Marrone’s short-but-complicated history with the Bills is a huge subject this week — but not for Marrone.

“My job is to make sure that I do the best job for this team,” Marrone said. “Hey, listen, am I happy that [Buffalo snapped its 18-year playoff drought]? I am. I am. I’m happy for their fans and I’m happy for the organization, as well as I am for the other 11 teams, or 10 teams that are in it, but my focus is on our fans, our team, and where we want to go.

“It’s going to be a week of people trying to pull that apart, and I’m not going to let that happen because of what my job is.”

Marrone admitted at the NFL scouting combine last March that he did make some mistakes during his Bills tenure. He said he spoke with Terry Pegula but wants to keep that conversation private.

“When you look back, I’ll be honest, there’s some things that I should’ve done differently,” Marrone said at the combine, “and I think I’ve learned from that and it’s made me a better coach today.”

While Marrone wouldn’t say Sunday’s playoff game had any special meaning, nose tackle Marcell Dareus did. Buffalo drafted Dareus third overall in 2011 and he spent the first 6½ seasons of his career there — making the Pro Bowl under Marrone in 2013 and 2014 — before being traded to the Jaguars for a sixth-round pick on Oct. 28.

This weekend’s matchup is definitely personal for him.

“It’s hard to say it isn’t,” Dareus said. “I’m just happy for the opportunity, man. It’s just crazy. God is funny. Just don’t question his work. Just do your job.

“They [Buffalo] had to make a move, and it’s business, but you can’t act like it doesn’t hurt [to be traded for a sixth-round pick].”

Dareus said he received 170 text messages from friends, family and former Bills teammates on Sunday night after the Jaguars-Bills matchup was set. He called it ironic that his former and current teams both snapped playoff droughts and will play each other, but he also said he was happy for his former teammates.

“It’s pretty funny,” said Dareus, who recorded his first sack as a member of the Jaguars during their 15-10 loss at Tennessee on Sunday. “We’re all laughing about it, all my friends back there and everyone here. It’s comical almost.”

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Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals

If Bruce Arians really had it in the back of his mind that this will be his last season coaching the Cardinals, it’s doubtful he would have gotten so excitable when he was asked the followed question:

Are you intrigued with the prospect of finding and developing the team’s next quarterback of the future?

“Oh gosh, yeah. That’s always been the most exciting thing in coaching for me,” Arians said Tuesday after shooting down false reports stating he has decided to mutually part ways with the franchise next week.

“I go back to that year (in 2012) with Andrew Luck and it was one of the most fun years ever, other than Chuck’s illness,” Arians continued, referring to when he became interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts following Chuck Pagano’s battle with leukemia. “Just fun coaching every day and watching him grow. Same thing with Peyton (Manning). It was just fun watching those guys grow.”

Arians only spent one season working with Luck, but it was enough to get the rookie quarterback on his way and Arians think he can do it again next year once the Cardinals isolate and determine their own young, new quarterback.

“I would think so,” he said. “It’s just a matter of if the excitement is there. You just continue doing it, you know.”

So far, the excitement is still there, the coach confirmed.

“I got up at 5 this morning and I was excited to get here, so that hasn’t changed,” Arians said, adding his improved health has also been influential and could impact his coaching future. “Yeah, that’s made a big difference. No major things happened this year, so that’s been huge.”

On Tuesday morning, however, Pro Football Weekly reported that the 65-year-old Arians was prepared to walk away from coaching. Among other things, Hub Arkush wrote, “Arians is a prostate cancer survivor who has battled other health issues in recent seasons and the prospect of a possible rebuild for the Cardinals with no apparent answers at quarterback on the horizon is apparently enough for Arians to decide to call it quits or at least take a hiatus from coaching.”

After opening his weekly news conference with the usual review regarding injuries and some brief thoughts from Sunday’s 23-0 shutout of the Giants, Arians brought up the report himself.

“If you want to ask me about this fake news story that has come up – I’m quoting the President now – nothing has changed. I don’t know where all that s–t came from,” Arians said, laughing. “Nothing has changed for the last month and a half and everybody keeps asking the same question.”

Arians was asked about that report specifically and why others have speculated as well that this will be his final season as coach of the Cardinals.

“I have no idea. I don’t even know who in the heck this guy is,” Arians said. “I don’t know where these supposed meetings took place. That’s fun. It was good reading.”

Asked if he’s getting a little sore about all the false reports, Arians nodded his head.

“I’m getting a little tired of it, yeah,” he said. “There will come a time and a place when we decide what we’re going to do. I guess Larry (Fitzgerald) has put up with this for like eight years. I guess I can put up with it for one.”

Arians, who is under contract for next season and has a team option for 2019, was asked how often he thinks about his coaching future in Arizona.

“I never think about it,” he said. “That’s why I get tired of them asking the question. I never think about it. I only think about Seattle. Last week, I only thought about New York, trying to figure out a way with this offensive line we’re playing with to block those guys.”

At 7-8, the Cardinals can finish the season .500 with a victory this Sunday at Seattle, where they have beaten the Seahawks three times under Arians. A win would also give Arians his 50th with the Cardinals, eclipsing the tie he shares with Ken Whisenhunt for the most victories ever by a Cardinals head coach.

“This is fun,” Arians said. “Get to 8-8 and play Seattle? It seems like we play them in the last game every year. This is our playoff game. Our guys will be motivated just like theirs. They’re going to be super motivated because they have to win (to have any chance at making the playoffs). It should be a great game.

“If you’re going to be a spoiler, that’s the one you want to do it against.”

Once that game is over, Arians will huddle with his staff, General Manager Steve Keim and the players, turn in all their reports, hold some final team meetings, and then take some time to contemplate what’s next.

“I’ll sit down with my wife and son and daughter and we’ll talk about it and see if we can make a decision sometime between Monday and February,” he said.

Arians said the futures of Fitzgerald and veteran quarterback Carson Palmer will not be tied to his decision at all. “They’re all separate,” he said. He did mention all the injuries the Cardinals suffered this season and how nice it will be to have a full arsenal of players to work with again, naming off several names such as David Johnson, Markus Golden and others.

That’s why Bruce Arians loves coaching. It’s the players, he said.

“It’s the relationships,” he said. “The relationships with the players. Building the roster. There really isn’t anything I don’t like about it.”

Then why leave?

“Who says I am?” Arians asked, laughing.

Everybody, apparently.

“Everybody out of town,” Arians said. “Everybody out of town.”
Cardinals injury news

Safety Antoine Bethea, who made two interceptions in the win over the Giants, suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the game and has been placed on injured reserve. Linebacker Edmond Robinson was elevated to the active roster from the practice squad. He played in 21 games for the Vikings the past two seasons.
Bruce Arians’ record with the Cardinals

2013: 10-6

2014: 11-5

2015: 13-3

2016: 7-8-1

2017: 7-8

RELATED: Cards on playing spoiler in Seattle next week: ‘There’s our playoff game’

MORE: Bruce Arians tied for most wins by a coach in Arizona Cardinals history

RELATED: Cards defense comes through with a Christmas Eve shutout

Reach McManaman at Follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac and listen to him live every Wednesday night between 7-9 on Fox Sports 910-AM on The Freaks with Kenny and Crash.

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Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills

The NFL announced late Sunday night that it has moved next Sunday’s Bills-at-Dolphins game from 1 to 4:25 p.m. and cancelled NBC’s Sunday night football game, which was supposed to be the final game of the regular season.

And the reason for both of those decisions is the same: The NFL wanted to ensure that all games with playoff implications that affect each other are played at the same time.

“We felt that both from a competitive standpoint and a fan perspective, the most fair thing to do is schedule all Week 17 games in either the 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. Eastern Time windows,” said Howard Katz, the NFL’s senior vice president of broadcasting.

“This ensures that we do not have a matchup on Sunday Night Football or New Year’s Eve that because of earlier results, has no playoff implications for one of both of the competing teams.”

All of the AFC teams competing for two remaining playoff berths will play at 4:25 p.m. on CBS: Baltimore, Tennessee, Buffalo and the Chargers.

Also, the two NFC teams competing for one remaining playoff spot also will play at 4:25 p.m. on Fox: Atlanta and Seattle.

Though the Dolphins were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday, the game will be meaningful for Buffalo, which still has a chance to make the playoffs for the first time this century.
To make the playoffs, Buffalo needs either: 1) a win AND Baltimore loss or 2) a win AND Tennessee loss AND Los Angeles Chargers loss

Here’s the full NFL schedule for Week 17:

Green Bay at Detroit (1 p.m., FOX)

Houston at Indianapolis (1 p.m., CBS)

Chicago at Minnesota (1 p.m., FOX)

New York Jets at New England (1 p.m., CBS)

Washington at New York Giants (1 p.m., FOX)

Dallas at Philadelphia (1 p.m., FOX)

Cleveland at Pittsburgh (1 p.m., CBS)

Carolina at Atlanta (4:25 p.m., FOX)

Cincinnati at Baltimore (4:25 p.m., CBS)

Kansas City at Denver (4:25 p.m., CBS)

Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers (4:25 p.m., CBS)

San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams (4:25 p.m., FOX)

Buffalo at Miami (4:25 p.m., CBS)

Arizona at Seattle (4:25 p.m., FOX)

New Orleans at Tampa Bay (4:25 p.m., FOX)

Jacksonville at Tennessee (4:25 p.m., CBS)

The NFL allows both CBS and Fox to televise double-headers on the final Sunday of the season.

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Panthers coach Ron Rivera

Panthers coach Ron Rivera

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he was surprised and disappointed to learn on Sunday that owner Jerry Richardson, amid allegations of workplace misconduct, planned to put the team up for sale after the 2017 season.

But Rivera made it clear that the Panthers, 10-4 and tied with New Orleans atop the NFC South, will continue to “go forward” with their playoff push and let the investigation by the NFL into Richardson’s conduct play out.

Sports Illustrated published an article on Sunday that said the organization settled financially with a least four employees regarding Richardson’s improper behavior in the workplace.

The allegations ranged from sexual harassment to Richardson using a racial slur with a former team scout.

“They’re all very serious,” Rivera said Monday of the allegations. “I do have a lot of concern about it. To be honest with you, I have not read them. I’m not dismissing them, because I’m going to wait until the investigation is done before I draw any conclusions. I think that’s the only fair thing to do. I don’t want to have anything altering my thought process.

“The investigation will take a life of its own. I believe it will be a thorough one. And remember, Mr. Richardson was the one that pushed for this to begin with.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Monday that “the league is moving forward with the investigation.”

Rivera’s focus will be on preparing for Sunday’s home game against Tampa Bay. The Panthers can clinch a playoff spot with a victory.

Rivera spoke on Monday to his players about Richardson’s decision to sell since the news broke after they departed Bank of America Stadium following Sunday’s 31-24 victory over Green Bay. He reminded them that their focus should be on football just as it has when the team has faced other off-the-field distractions in the past.

“I don’t know how much different it is from some of the things we’ve dealt with,” he said. “The thing that again we all have to understand is the serious nature of these allegations and who they affect.

“For the most part, these people need to be heard, respect what they have to say and again let the process take its course.”

Rivera said he spoke with Richardson on Sunday night just before the owner announced his decision to sell in a letter posted on the team website.

“He was terrific in terms of our conversation,” Rivera said, declining to elaborate on specifics of the conversation.

Rivera said he hoped new ownership keeps the team in Charlotte. Richardson in 2013 made a deal when the city agreed to pay for upgrades to the stadium that the team would be tethered to Charlotte through the 2018 season.

“This organization has had a tremendous impact on the Carolinas,” Rivera said. “It has helped the growth of this city and this community. It’s been a source of pride and goodwill. I’d like to see it continue.

“This is a great community, a very supportive fan base that’s been out there for us. I hope that somehow it’s able to stay here.”

As for the allegations, Rivera said he wouldn’t make a judgment until the investigation is over.

“Not to discount the serious nature of these allegations, for us, for what we do, we’re here to play football,” he said. “It’s important that we remember that. These allegations don’t change what we do. So we’ve got to go out and focus on getting ready for Tampa Bay.”

Panthers tight end Ed Dickson didn’t want to go into details about the allegations against Richardson.

“Personally, it’s sad to me, the whole thing,” he said. “We work to be better people, better individuals, better whatever you want to call it and to see that happen, it just saddened me as an individual. I got a lot of respect for our owner. He gave me an opportunity to come here and further my career and do the things I need to do as a football player, and I can only touch basis on a personal level from my standpoint of view.”

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who grew up in Charlotte, also hopes the team doesn’t move elsewhere.

One of the top African-American head-coaching candidates in the NFL, Wilks said he had never heard Richardson use a racial slur.

“In my six years around here I never encountered anything around here of that sorts,” he said. “Never have I heard of that. I’m just going to wait and see exactly what comes through the investigation.”

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Eli Manning

Eli Manning

If this is truly Eli Manning’s Last Stand with the New York Football Giants, there is no doubt that the Eagles and their fans will be happy to see him go.

But on a day when he threw for 434 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, when he scared the heck out of the Eagles and came within the longest 11 yards of one of the more improbable comebacks of his Hall of Fame career, Manning, a 34-29 loser, made this compelling 11th-hour case for the next general manager and head coach to want him back next season every bit as much as John Mara wants him back.

On a day when Manning denied hearing a thundering chant of “Dee-Fense, Dee-Fense, Dee-Fense” before a second-and-19 early in the fourth quarter — while he was commanding his huddle instead of standing on the Giants sidelines.

So this was LincolnFinancialLife Stadium as much as it was MetLife Stadium.

But still Manning, lifting his battered and bloodied team in a way that he has been unable to lift it all season, was 11 yards away from overcoming ghastly special-teams follies and the customary defensive ineptitude and simultaneously killing two birds with one stone by putting the Eagles’ designs on the No. 1 seed in the NFC in peril.

Manning, fourth-and-goal, had been only 6 yards away from shutting up these Eagles fans until a false start on right tackle Bobby Hart pushed him back.

“I don’t blame Bobby … [center] Brett Jones couldn’t hear me call the cadence,” Manning said. “I guess when you only win two games, you got a lot of Eagles fans and they were loud, and we couldn’t hear the cadence, that’s why we jumped offside.”

Manning tried a back-shoulder throw to Evan Engram, no interference call in the back of the end zone against Corey Graham.

I asked Manning if it bothered him that all these Eagles fans were making all that noise.

“Well, it bothers me in the sense where I don’t blame our fans, it bothers me in the sense that that’s the way that this season’s turned out. … We didn’t do our part. … You’re playing late in the year, and you’re not playing for a spot in the playoffs … so it bothers me from that sense,” Manning said.

It was the ninth 400-plus-yard game of his career. It was his 10th 300-yard-plus game against the Eagles. He has thrown more TD passes (51) versus the Eagles than any other team.

“I think we had a good plan to get the ball out quickly, and guys did a good job of getting open,” Manning said.

Namely Sterling Shepard (11 rec., 139 yards, 1 TD) and Evan Engram (8, 87) and Tavarres King (2, 70, 2 TDs). Manning threw them open with slants and slant-and-go’s and yards after catch did the rest.

“He was just laser-focused, just locked in,” Engram said. “That’s the 10 we know, that’s the 10 I’ve watched for so many years and it was definitely a great battle. It was great to be out with him today and battle.”

Manning was asked about John Mara stating that he would want Manning back in 2018.

“Hey, I want to be back next year as well,” Manning said. “I love playing for the New York Giants, I love this organization, appreciate everything they’ve done for me, and I try to give back everything that I have to this organization and to this team. I hope to be back as well.”

Mara has his fingers crossed that the next GM — Dave Gettleman interviews first — will build a wall in front of Manning. It is just one game, but it is one game when Manning threw for 434 yards with no Odell Beckham Jr. There were several inaccurate throws, there always are with him, and a near second interception, but that arm didn’t look weeks short of 37 years old.

“A lot of up-tempo, playing fast, gives us a great opportunity to be successful,” Manning said.

“Still feel like I can play at a high level, make plays and make throws and win football games.”

So we can now shut the door on Davis Webb. When interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo was asked if Manning would be the starter in Arizona, he said: “That’s a pretty good assessment.”

You either completely blow it up by drafting a quarterback, or you build the roster up around Manning as long as Webb is viewed as the heir apparent.

“He’s one of the best in my eyes to ever play this game,” Shepard told The Post, “so why not have him back?”

One vote here for Eli Manning in 2018.