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Rivera hopes Cam Newton deal done before season

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PHOENIX -- Ron Rivera was posed an interesting question on Wednesday about his franchise quarterback, one that could eventually set free agency afire and give us a new record for highest-paid offensive player.

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What if Cam Newton, a quarterback with marketing interests elsewhere, simply wanted to let his deal play out and take a gander at the market?

"I don't know," Rivera said at the annual NFC coaches breakfast. "And I don't want to speculate on what his thought process might be, but you know, Dave (Gettleman) has talked about it and we do view him as our franchise quarterback. So going from there, I'd like to believe both sides can get together and we'll see what happens."

Does that mean he'd like something done before the season, if only to provide himself some peace of mind?

"Personally? Yeah, I would," he said. "But they have a timetable. Both sides do, I imagine. Both sides have a plan and hopefully we can get it all worked out together."

Newton hitting free agency would be fascinating if only because we don't see it happen with extremely talented quarterbacks in their prime. We could think of a laundry list of big-ticket suitors, a scenario that would become infinitely more interesting should an L.A. franchise land within the next year as expected.

But for now, Rivera is hoping that doesn't need to happen.

He has big plans for Newton in 2015, including more no huddle.

"We just want to see him pick right up where he left off," Rivera said. "One of the things we did to help him, once he was healthy and ready to roll, was to institute a no huddle. He seemed to handle that well. Starting from where we finished, we'd like to see him hone that skill."

Rivera went on to say that Newton needs to continue to try to break away from relying on his athleticism and sharpen himself as a passer. Thinking of Newton as a 100 percent complete quarterback is terrifying for many defensive coordinators.

But will he be in Carolina when he's rounded out?

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps the inaugural Veteran Combine and discusses which star players were helped (and hurt) by free agency. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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