Josh Norman has had a year.
Detailing it fully would require talking about the Panthers loss in the Super Bowl, the essential televised throw down between him and Odell Beckham Jr., and his huge ascent to the elite level of an All-Pro selection in 2015-16.
Unfortunately for Norman, 2016 isn’t over and the news just kept coming Tuesday. In a shocking move, the Carolina Panthers rescinded the franchise tag they put on the corner back earlier this off season. The move makes Norman an unrestricted free agent, and on the market for any team.
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After the move Wednesday afternoon, Panthers GM David Gettlemen held a press conference to shed light on the decision.
“When we decided to place the franchise tag on Josh, we were fine with him signing it and then working on a long-term deal,” Gettleman said. “As we got deeper into conversations, we realized it was a significant difference between our thoughts and theirs.”
Norman’s franchise tag would have counted 13.952 toward Carolina’s cap in 2016-17, although Norman never physically signed the deal, allowing Gettleman to ultimately rescind the offer.
“The intervening weeks gave us additional time to evaluate where we’re going as a franchise. With the realization a deal was not going to get done, our internal conversations kept leading us to the fact that the one-year deal was becoming less and less attractive.”
Norman was aiming to reach a deal worth between 15 to 16 million per year at the least, and will most likely look at that in free agency. Not long after Norman hit the market, prediction and buzz swirled around possible destinations for Norman. The Titans, along with as many as ten other teams have been linked to the talented defender.
That begs the question if Tennessee should truly consider signing Norman.
Pros: Anytime you can add a player of the caliber of Norman, its hard to make a mistake. Norman showed lock down ability last year while making a run at Defensive Player of the Year. Norman would immediately improve the Titans secondary immensely. Norman and McCourtey on paper would be one of the most formidable cornerback tandems in the NFL.
Cons: A major unknown is the timetable for the Titans rebuild. With the quarterback in place, and pieces of talent in different positions, the Titans will be aiming solidify the rest of their roster throughout the next two drafts. How well the Titans draft, and the amount of time it takes to build a winner cannot be projected. Norman is a player in his prime in a win now stage. Playing for a team that probably will not make the playoffs in the upcoming year or two is not attractive to player close to the other side of 30.
Pros: The Titans rank fourth most in cap space available (29,745,847) in the NFL according to NFLTradeRumors, giving them the sure fire flexibility to make a big signing. Much of the players expected to come within the next two years will be on team friendly, rookie contracts.
Cons: As good as Norman was verse receivers in 2015-16, many criticize the corner for having a lot of help. The Panthers were collectively one of the best defenses in the NFL last year, loaded with play-makers such such as Luke Keuchely, Thomas Davis, Kony Ealy and others. Norman did not find himself playing much man coverage, which allowed him to be decisive and just focus on the ball.
The rescinding on a franchise tag is very rare to see in the NFL, and especially with a star player coming off a record setting year with the organization. If one thing is clear, the Norman market is open for business.