Former Carolina Panther All-Pro, Josh Norman, finds himself as the latest NFL free agent. Norman was slapped with the non-exclusive franchise tag by Carolina earlier this off season, and was set to make $13.925 million next year unless a long-term deal was agreed upon by July 15. However the two sides had yet to agree on a new deal, and Norman had not signed the franchise tender. Shockingly, the Pro Bowl defensive back found himself released right before the NFL deadline as the Panthers rescinded the franchise tag in a statement on their website.
The #Panthers have rescinded the non-exclusive franchise tag on CB Josh Norman immediately making him an unrestricted free agent.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) April 20, 2016
It was reported that Norman and his agent were seeking a deal around $16 million a year, referencing Darrelle Revis’ current status as the highest paid cornerback in the league set to make $14 million next year alone. The release comes as huge surprise in the NFL world, as Norman was a main catalyst for the Carolina Panthers during their 15-1 season that ended with a loss in the Super Bowl. He became a household name earning All-Pro honors, being recognized by many as the top corner in the NFL this past season. The ties go deeper than Carolina’s recent historic season as Norman is a “Carolina” lifetime resident, and expressed interest in remaining a Panther. He attended high school in South Carolina, and played college ball at Coastal Carolina before being a fifth round pick by the Panthers in the 2012 draft.
The free agent market for Norman is scorching, as teams are making their push for his services as soon as his release was announced. The desire for a shutdown corner in today’s pass-happy NFL is at a premium, especially for an All-Pro in his prime. At this point during the off season it will be interesting to see what teams will emerge as possible suitors going into OTA’s. Majority of teams are limited in the cap space needed for Norman’s asking salary, making acquisitions that gobbled up available salary cap. Will teams maneuver their roster to make room for the Pro Bowler? Will Norman take a pay cut to play for a contender? Only time will tell in another episode of the wacky NFL.