A side effect of the uproar that Panthers GM Dave Gettleman, inevitably facing this level of scrutiny for the first time, received by calling on coach Ron Rivera and QB Cam Newton to win?
It's the first time the team has breached the topic of Newton's contract.
Gettleman's comments were haphazard. They were, honestly, somewhat foolish, even if in some form they state the obvious. Rivera and Newton are in what you'd consider contract years; finishing year 3 for both, Rivera has a year left, and that's almost always when you decide if you're going to move forward. Newton is able to start negotiating a deal after this season thanks to the new CBA that preludes him from doing so prior to then.
Newton could be held to his current deal, a 4 year base deal that has a 5th year option that's essentially a franchise tag. Year 6, of course, could be a real franchise tag. Compare that to quarterbacks who are routinely charging more for every starting contract signed (Matt Stafford recently extended for $53 million over 3 years; Aaron Rodgers will make between 105 and 130 million in 5 years), and the franchise tag gives you everything except security.
At any rate, more than what Gettleman does with Rivera, or what happens with anyone else, that contract is the most critical situation the franchise faces. And they've finally decided to mention that.