To the OP, I don't think any of us can even get a handle on what's happening internally right now.
Something that would make sense to me tho is: Gettleman knows Rivera is not the answer. There is no reason to eat up cap space on players that may not fit the next coach's system. Gettleman may be letting Rivera prove himself with the guys he (Rivera) had input into acquiring.
It would all lead to your point about tanking the season tho too. My only comfort is, if this is the way Gettleman thinks, is that I don't think we will go anywhere with Rivera leading this team. Additionally, we all know how hardheaded Richardson is, so Gettleman would be wise to cool his jets on any talks of getting rid of a guy (Rivera) Richardson 'likes' (if he does); it's sad that is often how Richardson makes NFL business decisions.
It's already very frustrating this season, but many of us could see this fiasco coming...even tho we hoped & prayed for the best.
This kind of crap is what makes perennial losers into the perennial losers we all know: Bills, Raiders, Browns, etc. The Panthers need to try win at all costs b/c losing becomes a culture.