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GM: Cam Newton is Carolina Panthers' franchise QB

Last July, when questioned about whether Cam Newton was the right quarterback to build a team around, Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman answered with what The Charlotte Observer called "a pregnant, seven-second pause" before saying: "Yes he is. But now it's time to win."

Win Newton did. Along with a stout defense, the third-year NFL quarterback helped the Panthers win the NFC South and secure the conference's No. 2 seed.

During the team's end-of-season news conference Tuesday, there was no lull this time when Gettleman was asked if Newton is the franchise's quarterback of the future.

"Yes," Gettleman said. "No seven-second pause there. Yes he is."

The Panthers GM reiterated he doesn't discuss contracts with the media, but admitted that salary-cap issues currently hamstring his team.

"We're cap challenged. That's not going away any time soon," Gettleman said. " ... With that being said, do I feel Cam is a franchise quarterback? He proved it this year. He flat proved it."

Newton's overall numbers fell off this season, and he still must become a better pocket passer. However, he displayed the leadership qualities of a franchise quarterback and demonstrated that he can make plays with the game on the line.

The Panthers' salary cap still might be a mess next year, as Gettleman continues to clean up from the previous regime, but Newton is not going anywhere.

*The latest "Around The League Podcast" broke down all four divisional-round games and looked ahead to a monster conference championship weekend. *

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