On a rainy Tuesday morning, the Carolina Panthers organization had a lot to be proud of, but there was still a hint of disappointment in the air. This past Sunday, the Panthers were absolutely dismantled in a 23-10 loss by a physical 49ers team, who obviously had the upper-hand on Carolina in many facets of the game. Whether it be their playoff experience, or a chip on their shoulders from their loss vs. the Panthers at Candlestick Park, Jim Harbaugh's 49ers just seemed to be the better team.
Although the loss was very disheartening, the Panthers have a lot to be proud of. Many experts predicted Carolina to finish last in the division, and thought they wouldn't make any noise in the playoffs at all. Instead, Ron Rivera and the Panthers finished with a 12-4 record and probably hoisted the NFC South Crown. So, when Dave Gettleman, the Panthers GM, held a press conference to officially close out the 2013 season, he reflected on a lot of positive things, including the progress of Cam Newton. "Do I feel Cam is a franchise quarterback?", the rookie GM asked rhetorically. "He proved that this year". This statement had to be a breath of fresh air to every Panthers fan, and especially Cam Newton. 2014 is the last year on Cam's contract, and this vote of faith from his General Manager certainly is a sign that he will be here for years to come. Newton didn't just stumble upon this praise for Gettleman, he earned it. Cam improved in nearly almost every aspect of his game, including QB Rating, Completion percentage, TDs, but most importantly, he vastly improved his number of wins. He lead the Panthers to their first above .500 season during the reign of Rivera.
With 21 upcoming free agents, the Carolina Panthers offseason might feel like turmoil for a little while, but one thing is for sure: their quarterback isn't going anywhere.