Only two months removed from playing in Super Bowl 50 for the Carolina Panthers, All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman is now up for grabs.
Regarded as one of the top defensive players in the NFL, Norman looked sure to remain a Carolina Panther for the foreseeable future. While it isn’t certain that Norman will not return to Carolina, the franchise’s decision to rescind the tag lessens the chance considerably.
Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman said Thursday the decision to rescind the tag and make Norman a free agent was largely due to the Panthers gaining financial flexibility and the growing unlikelihood of reaching a long-term deal with Norman.
“The more we thought about it, the more flexibility that $14 million would give us … we just kept talking and talking,” Gettleman said. “I have a great belief that in order to get the right answer, you have to ask the right questions. We kept asking ourselves that question, and this is why we made the decision we made.”
According to a league source, Norman was seeking between $15 million and $16 million per year. While the Panthers weren’t willing to match the brash cornerback’s demands, there seems to be a strong market for Norman.
Norman is scheduled to visit the Washington Redskins on Friday, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. While the Redskins would need to free up more cap space to sign Norman, the San Francisco 49ers, which have shown interest in Norman, have $53 million in cap space. The 49ers could offer Norman a deal longer than one year and worth an amount comparable to other top cornerbacks around the league.
For many teams, the chance to add a talent like Norman can be the difference between being a fringe playoff team or a contender. While the contract will be costly, Norman displayed in 2015 that his skill set might be priceless.