2016 NFL Free Agency: 5 Teams That Could Sign Josh Norman
The Carolina Panthers don’t want stud cornerback Josh Norman anymore. Per reports, the team rescinded the franchise tag they placed on him earlier this off-season because they did not believe a long-term deal would get done.
Rather than keep Norman on for one more season and endure a holdout and possible team distraction, the Panthers have opted to cut ties with the star cornerback. That could have been a grave mistake.
It also could be a wise move in the long run, as the 28-year old Norman would have cost a hefty chunk of change to keep around beyond the 2016 season and is already entering his prime. There is also the argument that he could be a little overrated, as he has personally dubbed himself one of the greatest cornerbacks off all-time, yet has just one truly elite season under his belt.
That being said, Norman was easily one of the best cornerbacks in 2015 and played a huge role in helping Carolina get to their second ever Super Bowl. With the Panthers not trying to retain him with a long-term deal any longer, he is officially a free agent out on the open market.
Needless to say, a shutdown corner of Norman’s caliber could dramatically change a team’s fortunes. So, where is he most likely to go? Let’s take a look at five spots that make the most sense:
49ers in the Lead?
San Francisco has been tied to Norman ever since the news broke that the Panthers were rescinding their franchise tag on him, and they also have over $50 million available under the cap.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) April 21, 2016
This would be a huge signing for Chip Kelly right out of the gates, and it could also go a long way in making the Niners competent again defensively. Sources suggest Norman likes the idea of playing in California, but he also isn’t simply looking at just the money. Money was naturally the downfall of his tenure in Carolina, but now that he is a free agent, Norman is expected to consider all criteria in picking his new team for what could be a long contract.
Dolphins, Steelers and Bucs Interested
There are reportedly 8-9 teams interested in Norman, who is said to be asking for upwards of $14 million per year. That’s a hefty sum for a guy who has only proven his worth for basically one year, but several teams that lack a marquee cornerback will consider paying up to land him.
AM repost: Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Miami and San Francisco among the teams interested in Josh Norman, per source.https://t.co/FyyLyASliG
— Joe Person (@josephperson) April 21, 2016
Miami just lost Brent Grimes and was suspect in pass coverage last year, the Steelers badly need help against the pass (29th in yardage allowed in 2015), while the Buccaneers are another team that desperately could use a big time game-changer in their defensive backfield.
These are just the named teams to this point, as Norman has only been an official free agent for less than 24 hours. More teams are slated to pop up with interest as the week wears on.
There is obviously an argument out there for Norman to latch on with another title contender like the Patriots, Packers and the list goes on, but the reality is few of those top level teams actually have the money to get him. They would have to make big cost-cutting moves to land him and/or Norman wouldn’t be able to get top dollar.
Norman wants a combination of money, role, scheme, winning and lifestyle. It does sound like his options are very much in abundance, but the Jaguars are the other team – other than the Niners – with over $50 million in available cap space.
Jacksonville has also been carefully building up their team on both sides of the ball. They already have a rising offense and then added Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson in free agency. Adding Norman could put them over the top defensively.
It remains to be seen exactly where Norman goes, but he showed last year he is a stud corner and given that Carolina ran a diverse defense, it’s arguable he can fit just about any defensive scheme. Needless to say, if he gives the same effort and produces on the level he did a year ago, he could easily be the missing link between a non-playoff team and a playoff spot. He could also lift a playoff contender into title contention.
There is also the small chance he could re-engage in long-term contract talks with the Panthers. Stay tuned.
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