Josh Norman

Bills Activate Josh Norman From IR

SATURDAY: Norman is in line to make his Bills debut Sunday in Las Vegas. The Bills will activate their free agent corner acquisition ahead of their Week 4 game against the Raiders.

WEDNESDAY: The Bills have designated cornerback Josh Norman for return, according to the league’s transaction wire. Buffalo now has a three-week window to activate the veteran DB.

Once considered one of the best corners in the league, Norman was all over the PFR pages back in 2016, when he and the Panthers were going through a messy divorce. On the heels of a platform campaign that saw him bring home First Team All-Pro honors, Norman was hit with the franchise tag, but Carolina rescinded the tag shortly thereafter. When that happened, Norman signed a five-year, $75MM contract with Washington, which made him the highest-paid CB in NFL history at the time.

But he was not quite the same player with Washington that he was with the Panthers, and in 2019, he graded out as the third-worst qualified cornerback in the league per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. However, he managed to finagle a one-year, $6MM pact out of the Bills this offseason, and both Buffalo and Norman were hoping that a reunion with Bills HC Sean McDermott — who was Carolina’s defensive coordinator throughout Norman’s entire tenure with the club — would help Norman look more like his old self.

Norman, however, landed on IR earlier this month with a hamstring injury. He appears to be on the mend and is nearing his debut with the current leaders of the AFC East.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Place Josh Norman On IR

Josh Norman‘s Bills tenure will not include game action for a while. The team placed the veteran cornerback on IR Saturday.

Norman was already set to miss Week 1 with a hamstring injury. He will now be forced to miss at least two more games. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted the NFL to further alter its IR rule. Teams can activate an unlimited number of players from IR after three weeks, rather than the usual eight.

Buffalo signed Norman to a one-year, $6MM deal in March. Norman did not fare especially well for most of his four-year Washington tenure, but a Bills stay means a return to work with his former defensive coordinator in Sean McDermott. Those plans are now on hold.

The Bills also promoted cornerback Cam Lewis and defensive tackle Justin Zimmer from their practice squad Saturday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Rumors: Jets, Bell, Butler, Norman

The Jets are widely expected to be active in free agency, and now that a new CBA has been approved, they can increase their ability to spend by designating Trumaine Johnson as a post-June 1 cut. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com takes a look at the players that Gang Green is expected to target, and unsurprisingly, some of this year’s most prolific O-lineman, edge rushers, and cornerbacks are on the list.

But what are the Jets’ fallback plans if they can’t land their top targets? Connor Hughes of The Athletic has heard that the team could pursue Eagles OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and if the Jets miss out on guards like Graham Glasgow and Joe Thuney, Hughes says they have looked into Panthers guard Greg Van Roten.

Now for more from the AFC East:

  • The Jets would like to retain WR Robby Anderson, but if his price tag gets too high, both Hughes and Cimini believe Breshad Perriman would be a target. Perriman offers field-stretching ability and had a strong finish to the 2019 season with the Bucs.
  • Jets RB Le’Veon Bell receives a $2MM roster bonus today. As Cimini points out, that bonus makes it a little less likely that Bell is traded, though that never seemed like a realistic proposition to begin with.
  • Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes the Patriots are prepared to move on from WR Phillip Dorsett, though it’s a different story for Adam Butler. The fourth-year DT recently switched agents, and Reiss says extension talks could be on tap. Butler, a former UDFA, recorded six sacks last season.
  • The details are in on Josh Norman‘s new contract with the Bills, courtesy of Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (via Twitter), The deal was originally reported as a one-year, $6MM pact that could increase to $8MM with incentives, but Norman has a number of workout and roster milestones to hit before he collects the full $6MM. His salary is just $2.8MM, $1.5MM of which is guaranteed.

Bills To Sign Josh Norman

Josh Norman will attempt to bounce back with some familiar personnel. The former Panthers and Redskins cornerback agreed to terms with the Bills on a one-year deal, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter).

The contract is worth $6MM but could climb to $8MM based on incentives, Garafolo notes. This will reunite Norman with former Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and ex-Carolina assistant GM Brandon Beane. The top two members of Buffalo’s power structure were with Carolina throughout Norman’s Panthers tenure. Beane revealed the Bills were interested last month.

Several teams expressed some degree of interest, which helps explain the $6MM Bills proposal, but Garafolo adds (via Twitter) Norman opted for Buffalo because of his familiarity with McDermott’s system and the presence of top-tier cornerback Tre’Davious White.

Washington released Norman earlier this year, cutting ties with what was the league’s top cornerback contract for years. The 32-year-old defender will return to the system that turned him from 2012 fifth-round pick to a first-team All-Pro.

As of now, Norman will become Buffalo’s highest-paid cornerback. While the team wants to extend White, the Bills’ CB1 remains attached to his rookie deal. The Bills have fellow rookie-contract cogs Levi Wallace and Taron Johnson in place as well, but Kevin Johnson looms as a free agent. Pro Football Focus graded Kevin Johnson as its No. 24 overall cornerback last season.

Norman dominated during the Panthers’ 2015 season, playing a key role in their run to Super Bowl 50. He intercepted four passes, taking two back for touchdowns. It remains one of the best contract-year performances in modern NFL history. The Panthers rescinded Norman’s franchise tag in April 2016, leading to his five-year, $75MM Redskins pact. He did not match that play in Washington, a tenure that ended with the Redskins benching him last season.

Norman’s $15MM-per-year deal did not produce a Pro Bowl with the Redskins, but he will land on his feet with a chance to become a supporting-caster on a talented Bills roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Interested In Josh Norman

The Bills have checked in with free agent cornerback Josh Norman, GM Brandon Beane says (via the team website). So far, the talks have been informal, though there’s an obvious connection between the longtime Panthers star and the Bills’ regime. 

We have looked into him and even talked to him,” said Beane. “Nothing more than that. I’m sure he may have some other teams that he’s looking at beyond Buffalo. Probably a similar situation to Greg Olsen, he’s in a spot where he’ll be able to choose where he wants to go. I don’t know what his plan will be of whether we’ll come to any type of agreement.”

Beane and head coach Sean McDermott – formerly with the Panthers – were in the running for Olsen before he signed with the Seahawks. Their familiarity could lead to something with Norman and the cornerback position is on their to-do list.

The Bills are set to return Tre’Davious White, Taron Johnson, and Levi Wallace (ERFA) at cornerback while Kevin Johnson is out-of-contract. They’ll have to weigh Norman and other big-name CBs against larger needs, however. The Bills could use a top-end receiver, a reliable tight end (since the Olsen deal didn’t come together), and upgrades on the offensive line.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Release Josh Norman

The Redskins have released cornerback Josh Norman, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter). Some believed that new Redskins head coach and old friend Ron Rivera would keep Norman on board, but his outsized contract ultimately pushed him out of the picture. 

[RELATED: Redskins’ Dunbar Requests Trade Or Release]

Norman was at odds with the Redskins last year and the club tried to shop him at the deadline. Towards the end of the season, he missed time due a reported illness and saw his snap count dwindle. He wound up playing in just 12 games total and recorded 40 tackles, his lowest career showing for any season with double-digit appearances.

The advanced metrics also showed that he lost a step or three in 2019. Norman graded out as the third-worst qualified cornerback in PFF’s rankings with a putrid 45.6 overall score. It was a precipitous fall for the 32-year-old, who was once one of the league’s best.

Norman joined the Redskins on a five-year, $75MM deal in April of 2016 following a messy breakup with the Panthers. At the start of the offseason, the Panthers employed the franchise tag to keep Norman from testing free agency – a one-year, $14MM deal. Then, they hit a stalemate in long-term talks when Norman demanded roughly $16MM per season. The Panthers stunned everyone by rescinding the tag and the Redskins were happy to pounce on the opportunity.

At the time, Norman profiled as an absolute game-changer. In 2015, he was named to the All Pro first team and notched career highs in interceptions (four) and passes defensed (18). In that season, he was PFF’s No. 12 ranked CB.

With drama throughout the organization and issues on both sides of the ball, the Redskins have been mired in an absolute rut for years. Norman, never one to pull punches, was openly critical of Washington throughout.

Cornerback now profiles as one of the Redskins’ top needs this offseason, and they’ll have a bit of extra cap room to land a new cover man. Panthers free agent James Bradberry – one of Rivera’s faves from their time together in Carolina – figures to be heavily connected to the Redskins as they reconfigure their secondary. For his part, Bradberry says he wouldn’t mind a reunion, though staying with the Panthers would be his top choice.

By releasing Norman, the Redskins will save $12.5MM against the 2020 salary cap with just $3MM in dead money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Shopping Josh Norman

While the Redskins finally seem ready to discuss Trent Williams, they are also eager to see if a taker for Josh Norman‘s contract emerges. Washington has called teams about the veteran cornerback, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

Obstacles stand in the way of a possible deal, however. Norman is due nearly $6MM over the rest of 2019 and has battled hand and thigh injuries, missing Week 7. Norman played last week against the Vikings, however. The former Panthers All-Pro also has not lived up to the $15MM-AAV contract he signed in 2016.

Pro Football Focus grades Norman as its No. 98 overall corner (out of 112 full-timers), further sliding him down the cornerback hierarchy. Norman will turn 32 in December and is signed through the 2020 season. It would cost Washington just $3MM in dead money to release Norman in the offseason, and the move would save the franchise $12.3MM.

This marks the latest Norman trade rumor; a report last week indicated the eighth-year defender was being floated around. With the Redskins sitting at 1-7 through the first half, it makes sense for the team to consider dealing veterans not part of the long-term picture.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins’ Peterson, Norman To Play

Redskins running back Adrian Peterson will have a chance to exact revenge on his old friends in Minnesota, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). Peterson was dealing with some ankle issues, but he will be active for the team’s Thursday night matchup against the Vikings. 

Peterson was listed as questionable, but earlier today, he vowed to “bite down” and play through it. That’s not great news for the Vikings, especially since Peterson will be coming in with extra motivation. He might not be the AD of old, but he’s still an effective rusher coming off of two quality games. He ran for 118 yards against the struggling Dolphins and followed up that effort with a solid 4+ yards per carry against the Niners.

On the other side of the ball, cornerback Josh Norman will play, despite dealing with some thigh and hand pain. That’s notable for obvious reasons, but also because Norman’s name has been bandied about in trade speculation. The Redskins continue to reject calls about Trent Williams, but they’re reportedly open to moving Norman and his sizable contract.

Norman joined the Redskins on a $15MM/year deal back in 2016, but, so far, he has not matched the production of his Carolina years. Norman graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 50 corner last season. This year, his 50.0 overall score has him at No. 98 among CBs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Notes: Falcons, Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Jets, Redskins, Giants, Eagles, Bills, Packers

Teams continue to ask about Austin Hooper, whose 526 receiving yards sit 11th in the NFL entering Week 8. However, the Falcons have spurned suitors who’ve called about the emerging tight end, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Hooper is in a contract year, but the Falcons believe they have a chance to re-sign him. The Falcons, though, are the team doing the contacting regarding Vic Beasley. Atlanta is shopping its former All-Pro defensive end, who is playing out a $12.8MM fifth-year option. Pass rushers are obviously valuable, but with Beasley’s play having fallen off since that 2016 breakthrough, the return might not be what the Falcons seek.

Here is the latest from the trade market:

  • The Redskins continue to respond with hard nos when asked about Trent Williams, but Breer adds Josh Norman‘s name has been floated around. With Norman having not lived up to the $15MM-AAV contract he signed in 2016, it would be hard to imagine the Redskins getting much value for the eighth-year cornerback.
  • A cornerback performing better continues to look likelier to stay put. Chris Harris does not expect to be traded, and Troy Renck of Denver7 notes the Broncos are not as motivated to deal their four-time Pro Bowler as they were to ship out Emmanuel Sanders. A second-round pick would likely be necessary here, per Breer. Considering the Broncos’ issues finding corners as of late, dealing Harris would create a massive offseason need in Denver.
  • The Bengals are 0-7, and A.J. Green continues to come up in trade rumors. But the old-school organization isn’t budging. Mike Brown has not signed off on a firesale, Breer adds, instead preferring to provide first-year HC Zac Taylor with a foundation. That project is not going well so far, with the veteran-laden team performing poorly. Cincinnati’s potential trade chips also include franchise sack leaders Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Neither appears to be a departure candidate. Tyler Eifert is a name Breer mentions could be dealt, but the tight end obviously has a significant injury history that would limit a return.
  • As for the expensive New York corners, Janoris Jenkins has generated more interest than Trumaine Johnson. The Giants have shopped Jenkins around some, per Breer, while Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes it would require “a miracle” for a team to take Johnson’s salary off the Jets‘ payroll. Jenkins is signed through 2020, with $5.37MM remaining in 2019 salary.
  • In addition to the Saints exploring receiver additions, the Bills, Eagles and Packers are as well, Breer notes. This could heat up the Robby Anderson market, but Breer adds Browns wideout Rashard Higgins has been discussed in advance of Tuesday’s deadline. The backup is in a contract year. However, Higgins has battled knee issues and has only played in one 2019 game.
  • With Mark Andrews having outproduced Hayden Hurst, the Ravens have received calls on their 2018 top pick. As of now, however, Hurst is not believed to be available, per Breer.

NFC East Notes: Elliott, Eagles, Redskins

The Cowboys‘ strategy of prioritizing extension for Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper over Ezekiel Elliott have seemingly influenced the two-time rushing champion to consider a holdout. While Elliott is signed through the 2020 season and can be controlled on a 2021 franchise tag, a path the Cowboys appear to be pondering, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap tweets the team’s best move would be to extend Elliott now in order to have the remaining $12.9MM on his contract become part of the extension’s guarantee structure. The Cowboys should structure a deal that would enable them to cut bait after the first year of the extension, which if done now would be 2021, Fitzgerald adds (on Twitter). That would be unlikely to happen if Elliott heads into 2020 without an extension. Having not yet met the service-time requirements for free agency, Elliott must report to the Cowboys by Aug. 6. This gives the team considerable leverage against a 2019 holdout. A 2020 holdout would become more complicated.

With the NFC East teams wrapping up their offseasons, here is the latest out of this division:

  • Several Redskins players missed out on some cash this offseason. By either not showing up, in Trent Williams‘ case, to the offseason program (or failing to be there for 90% of it), Williams, Josh Norman, Landon Collins, Paul Richardson, Quinton Dunbar and Vernon Davis missed out on some bonus cash, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Norman led the way on this front, seeing $200K docked from his 2019 salary. Collins was docked $175K, with Williams and Richardson down $150K.
  • Staying with Washington, their free safety job still figures to be Montae Nicholson‘s to lose, J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington notes. This comes despite the Redskins suspending him in December, for an off-field arrest that resulted in dropped charges, and Jay Gruden expressing annoyance Nicholson missed the early portion of Redskins OTAs. Washington did not draft a safety, and Pro Football Focus graded Nicholson as its fifth-worst back-line defender last season. Still, Finlay expects the third-year player to have a major say in who starts alongside Collins.
  • Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders and Corey Clement will be on the Eagles‘ 53-man roster, leaving recent draft picks Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams and Donnel Pumphrey in danger of the waiver wire. Despite the Eagles investing in each of these players out of college, Saints 2018 sixth-round pick Boston Scott looks like the early favorite to be the Eagles’ fourth running back, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes. Possessing a Darren Sproles-type physique at 5-foot-6 and 203 pounds, Scott has yet to take a regular-season handoff. But his experience as a punt returner may give him the edge, per Zangaro. Adams (511 yards) and Smallwood (364) were Philadelphia’s two leading rushers last season.
  • The Giants will join the Eagles in having a project offensive lineman in camp. After Philly drafted tackle Jordan Mailata in last year’s seventh round, the Giants signed college shot putter Austin Droogsma. The Giants signed Droogsma, who last played football as a high-schooler 2012, in May and will try the 6-4, 345-pound track convert as a guard, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes. While at Florida State, Droogsma won the 2018 ACC indoor and outdoor titles and finished both seasons as an All-American. Mailata, a rugby standout, spent most of last season on the Eagles’ practice squad; the Giants’ P-squad would seem like the best-case scenario for Droogsma in 2019.