The NFL can be a COLD business at times and once again today, Panthers fans are reminded of that as fan favorite Josh Norman is allowed to walk after the team decided to rescind their franchise tag.
Rescinding a franchise tag is RARE. The last time it happened was back in 2009 when Seattle pulled their offer to linebacker Leroy Hill. It is VERY rare to see a player with the talent of Josh Norman get his offer taken from him.
Back on February 11th, I wrote a blog about Panthers fans moving on after the tough loss in the Super Bowl. At the very end, I talked about the Panthers possibly cutting a fan favorite and they would have to move on past that as well. But I NEVER thought one of the players this team would let walk would be cornerback Josh Norman.
Today around 5:25, the word started going around the news room that the team had rescinded their franchise tag to Norman that would have payed him around $13.95 million for this season.
"Why would they do that?"
I was asked that question by someone at WBTV and the answer is simple. The NFL is a business and paying what Josh Norman wants is not good business sense for the long term future for this team.
Norman was asking to be the highest paid cornerback in the league at $16 million per season. Of course, that price could be the starting point for negotiations for Norman and his agent, but the Panthers were not going to let this be a distraction going into off season workouts which start on Monday. In the last few days, reports started surfacing that Norman would not be apart of those workouts.
How long would this have dragged on? Would he miss training camp? Would the returning players have to answer these questions every day? We don't have to worry about that now. The team can get on with the business of trying to get back to the Super Bowl.
“After a number of conversations with Josh’s agent we realized that a long-term deal was not attainable,” said general manager Dave Gettleman in a press release provided by the team. “We have decided to rescind the franchise tag freeing Josh to immediately become a UFA. We thank Josh for all his contributions and truly wish him well.”
If there is one thing we know about Dave Gettleman, he is NOT afraid to make the tough choices. This is a guy who let the Panthers all time leading receiver Steve Smith Sr. walk away to Baltimore.
This is a risky move as the Panthers are thin right now at CB as Bene Benwikere is coming off a broken leg. They signed Brandon Boykin to play the nickel corner. The Panthers were high on Lou Young late last season as he came up to the active roster off the practice squad. What's left in the CB room is very unproven talent, but now they have a chance to make their mark.
Peanut Tillman is a free agent and is an option to bring back if he can coming of the late season ACL tear.
With pick number 30 in next week's NFL Draft, it is hard to predict who Carolina might draft, but one thing I am sure of, a CB will be selected by this team in the 3 days of the draft.
As for Norman, he is going to be OK and will more than likely get the money he seeks or close to it. Jacksonville has $52 million in cap space and can write a check for whatever Norman wants IF they want him. San Francisco has about $52 million as well. Cleveland has $39 million, Tennessee has $28 million, Chicago has $22 million so Josh could have options.
Like Smith, the team knows Norman can still play. His 4 interceptions last season helped the team lead the NFL in INT with 24, total takeaways with 39, and points off turnovers with 148.
But in the trenches is where Gettleman likes to build his teams so with the extra money he has now, he can work on long term deals with defensive tackles Kawaan Short and Star Lotulelei.
Norman is a character and always good for a great sound byte. But more than that, the man can play. He's also a local guy as he is from Greenwood, SC and played his college ball at Coastal Carolina. Which makes it all the more hard to see him go.
But as I said at the start, the NFL is a business. All players know when they get into the league, they can be cut or released at anytime. It's just the nature of the beast.
Norman will move on. The Panthers will move on. And Panthers fans will once again have to move on as well.