Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman created a local stir in Charlotte when asked in the preseason about the future of Cam Newton, pausing before saying “But now it’s time to win.”

Asked after a 12-4 regular season, Gettleman made sure there was no hesitation.

“Yes, no seven-second pauses,” Gettleman told reporters Tuesday. “Do I feel Cam is a franchise quarterback? He proved that this year.”

Of course, Gettleman’s not going to talk about contracts, or when he’s going to start negotiating an extension. The Panthers can decide in May to guarantee the fifth-year option on Newton’s rookie deal, locking him up through 2015.