Josh Norman admitted the Panthers‘ decision to rescind his franchise tag “sideswiped” him, as the fifth-year veteran was preparing to play in North Carolina again before Wednesday’s changing of his status eventually sent him up the Atlantic coast, David Newton of ESPN.com writes.
Dave Gettleman made his top offer — $44MM over four years — at the Combine but felt the $13.9MM franchise tag cost for Norman could have been spent better elsewhere, as his usual policy is not to spend big on defensive backs, Newton writes.
An extension for Kawann Short will be a likely domino to fall in Carolina as a result, Newton offers. The Panthers now have the fourth-most cap space in the league at $31.17MM, and the former second-round pick is entering a contract year.
Here’s the latest coming from the NFL’s southern contingent.
- The Panthers will look to add a veteran cornerback in the coming weeks, but it probably won’t be an unrestricted free agent, Newton reports. With Norman’s Friday-night defection putting Carolina in position to grab a compensatory third-round pick in 2017, the signing of a UFA corner — and one who hovers far beneath Norman’s career arc — would negate that opportunity. The Panthers will likely target a player who’s been released, with Newton mentioning Antonio Cromartie, who was cut after a one-season reunion with the Jets, as an option here. As of now, Bene Benwikere and Brandon Boykin are the team’s top two corners going into the draft, where Carolina’s need for another talent immediately increased.
- Drew Brees reportedly being willing to restructure his $30MM cap number to help the Saints sign Norman struck Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio as a PR move as the 15th-year quarterback prepares for questions about that figure, which is by the largest in the league in 2016 — $6MM clear of Eli Manning‘s $24MM cap charge. Florio believes Brees was the source for the ESPN.com report that emerged after Norman signed with Washington, and the writer categorizes it as a calculated salvo from Brees in an attempt to preempt backlash that could come from fans realizing his 2016 cap hold was the main reason New Orleans couldn’t afford Norman or a player of his ilk earlier in free agency. The perpetually cap-strapped Saints cut Jahri Evans and Marques Colston in March, making the two Bayou icons the latest such casualties. The Saints have the least amount of space in the league at $2.9MM.
- One of the receivers the Texans brought in for a visit, Leonte Carroo acknowledged the team is looking for a receiver to pair with DeAndre Hopkins, whom the Rutgers prospect spoke to during his Houston tour, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. “That’s what I’m excited about, that they’re looking for a wide receiver,” Carroo told Wilson. “I fit their system very well. They could use a big, physical receiver like myself on the other side from Hopkins. I feel like I could help them tremendously.” Houston has essentially been seeking a quality No. 2 wideout during the franchise’s entire run, with Kevin Walter‘s late-2000s work representing the best the Texans have coaxed from this role. Carroo also visited the Saints, Patriots and Dolphins and worked out at the Jets’ and Giants’ local pro days.
- The Titans have likely moved on from their interest in former Broncos All-Pro guard Louis Vasquez, Jim Wyatt of Titans.com writes. Cut by the Broncos early last month, Vasquez visited the Titans. But nothing emerged from the eighth-year veteran’s meeting and he remains a free agent. Chance Warmack and Jeremiah Poutasi reside as the Titans’ projected starting guards this season.