The Panthers announced that they have rescinded the franchise tag from Josh Norman, making him an unrestricted free agent. The move comes as an absolute shock as Norman is regarded as one of the league’s top cornerbacks. With Norman off the books, the Panthers now have $13.952MM in cap room that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“After a number of conversations with Josh’s agent we realized that a long-term deal was not attainable,” GM Dave Gettleman said in a statement. “We thank Josh for all his contributions and truly wish him well.”
The Panthers reportedly were not interested in meeting Norman‘s asking price of roughly $15-16MM. However, Carolina was said to be fine with letting Norman play out the year under the franchise tag, which, at nearly $14MM, would have paid him like an elite corner.The two sides have not closed the gap in recent weeks and recently Norman informed the Panthers that he would not be in attendance for their conditioning program.
Norman was looking to be paid in excess of $16MM per year, much like the first three years of Darrelle Revis‘ extension, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Panthers were not on board with that, however, and cut him loose instead.
Now, Norman hits the open market and while some teams are tapped out, other teams are flush with cap space. That list of teams includes the 49ers and, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, the idea of playing in California appeals to Norman. The Rams, Bears, Jaguars, and Titans also have room to spend.
Norman, 28, enjoyed a career-year in 2015 as he was named to the All Pro first team and selected for his first Pro Bowl. After producing career highs in both interceptions (four) and passes defensed (18), Norman is in great position as he demands a multi-year payday. Norman was well-regarded by advanced metrics as well, finishing as the league’s 12th-best corner by Pro Football Focus’ grades.
Currently, Revis stands as the NFL’s highest paid cornerback after signing a $70.12MM contract that includes a whopping $39MM guaranteed. That deal edged out Patrick Peterson of the Cardinals who got a $70.05MM deal with $16.25MM guaranteed and Seahawks corner Richard Sherman, who inked a $56MM deal ($12.43MM guaranteed) to stay in Seattle. Trumaine Johnson accepted his franchise tender earlier this month to become the fourth-highest paid corner in the NFL, but Norman has had his sights set on a lucrative long-term deal instead. Now, he’ll be looking into long-term pacts elsewhere.
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