11:40am: The Panthers have officially tagged Norman, per Rapoport (via Twitter).
10:17am: With no long-term contract agreement imminent, the Panthers will place the franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman today, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Rapoport notes that the two sides will continue to talk, in the hopes of getting a multiyear deal done before the July 15th deadline for franchised players.
When the Panthers officially tag Norman, it will come as no surprise. A report from nearly a month ago – well before the window for designating franchise or transition players opened – indicated that the standout cornerback would be franchised if he didn’t have a long-term contract in place by March 1st.
The 28-year-old Norman certainly put himself in a great position for a mega-deal in his contract year, as 2015 was easily the best season of his four-year career. He was named to the All Pro first team and selected for his first Pro Bowl, and also posted solid raw statistics, producing career highs in both interceptions (four) and passes defensed (18). Norman was well-regarded by advanced metrics as well, finishing as the league’s 12th-best corner by Pro Football Focus’ grades.
Assuming Norman receives the non-exclusive franchise tag from the Panthers, he would be in line for a one-year tender worth $13.952MM. He could sign that one-year offer, guaranteeing his salary for the 2016 season, or he and his agent to explore the market to see if any teams would be willing to give him an offer sheet.
Since signing a non-exclusive free agent costs the player’s new team two first-round picks, it’s more likely that Norman will simply remain in Carolina, either on a one-year contract or a new long-term extension. As noted above, the two sides would have until July 15th to reach a multiyear agreement, whether or not Norman has signed his franchise tender by then.
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