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Panthers GM: No more shopping at 'dollar store'

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Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman made a stir two summers ago when he offered "a pregnant, seven-second pause" before agreeing that Cam Newton was the right quarterback for Carolina.

Gettleman mustered up no such drama on Tuesday, telling reporters point blank that -- "Yes" -- he views Newton as a franchise quarterback.

The GM, though, refused to talk about Cam's contract, which runs out after next season.

"We need him to be more consistent and we need the players around him to be more consistent," Gettleman said, before crediting Newton for overcoming a flurry of injuries behind a patched-together line to guide Carolina to a second straight NFC South title.

Coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday that Cam could "be a very special player," noting: "He wants it more than anyone I've been around."

It might not happen right away, but we have no doubt about the Panthers offering Newton a handsome extension. Can his mechanics improve? Can he develop into a more reliable passer? Of course, but Carolina isn't about to part ways with a player of Cam's potential at the most important position in the NFL.

Here's what else we learned from the Panthers:

1. After dealing with Greg Hardy's domestic violence incident, Gettleman acknowledged he "would have to really think" before pursuing a college prospect with character issues, saying of the Hardy situation: "Nobody in this room is trained to handle that. Nobody. And that was an incredibly difficult situation."

Looking back on the team's choice to franchise-tag Hardy in February for a guaranteed $13.116 million, Gettleman said: "I thought it was extremely important to keep the (defensive) front together. That's why we made the decision to franchise Greg. And obviously it blew up."

2. Gettleman has bemoaned the team's cap space for two straight offseasons. This time around, the Panthers have a chance to spend some scratch in free agency. "Last year we were shopping at the dollar store," Gettleman said. "This year, we're able to move up in class."

3. Both Gettleman and Rivera emphasized the need to add wheels to the roster, with the GM saying, per The Charlotte Observer: "We need more speed. We know that. We're not silly. You don't want to miss the obvious."

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