The Carolina Panthers have rescinded their franchise tag on Josh Norman, thus freeing nearly $14 million in cap space. Norman reportedly wanted a long-term deal worth $15-16 million annually, but the Panthers were not willing to commit to that. Teams usually pay elite talent, especially elite talent in its prime, but that did not happen here.
Why not? Did Norman become a problem in the locker room?
“Here’s the thing with this situation,” former NFL offensive lineman and current Panthers analyst Frank Garcia said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think we’re always looking to place blame on one side or the other. We’ve worked and dealt with deals and negotiations that sometimes may not just work for whatever reason, whether it’s a guy kicking and screaming or not liking the deal. But in order to be a successful deal, both sides have to be happy, and obviously Josh Norman wasn’t happy. I think the Panthers came to that same conclusion. We’re offering him $11 million, $12 million – whatever the number he is – and he’s making 14. We know that we’ve already gone through this situation with Julius Peppers. Because of that, I thought it was, for both sides, the easy way to cut ties and move forward.
“I don’t know if we place blame on Josh,” Garcia continued. “He’s probably going to get close to the number he was looking for in the open market. That’s what every player fights for – to have that. I don’t ever look at this franchise tag as a good thing for the players because it keeps you from getting to that ultimate deal at the end of your four or five years (after) you’ve been held captive to test the open market. I felt like Josh saw it the same way.”
Garcia does not think Norman will return to Carolina.
“I don’t know if the bridges are burned, but I just don’t think you can come back here asking for that $11 million,” Garcia said. “He’s given away all of his leverage when it comes to negotiations. I think that his time’s done here. I think he’s going to get, really with the open market and the need for cornerbacks, (close to what he wants). Whether we think or you think or I think or anybody thinks that he’s a top-tier cornerback, a top-five guy, guys are getting that type of money on the open market when you’re on of the best – and he was an All-Pro, so he’s going to get that type of money. It’s just not going to be here with the Panthers.”
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman will likely look for Norman’s replacement in the draft. Or not. After all, the strength of Carolina’s defense is its front seven. In fact, it might be the best front seven in football. So while a shutdown corner makes life easier, Carolina’s defense can still perform at an elite level without one.
“I really truly believe that Dave Gettleman is going to draft the best player available and filter it through and start this machine,” Garcia said. “He used the term ‘graduating.’ Players graduate, and when players graduate, sometimes they have to move on and so do we. But that means we have guys behind them in the system that are going to be ready to step up and we really trust in our philosophy, which is winning with the front seven. You’re not going to need a superstar to fill that void. It’s going to be a system, and I feel like they think that the front seven is where it starts for the Carolina Panthers.”
Brandon Tierney finds it interesting that no Carolina Panther has been outspoken about Norman’s release, which suggests to Tierney that Norman was not well-liked in the locker room.
True or untrue, Gettleman simply couldn’t find common ground with the star corner.
“He wants guys that are going to be all-in,” Garcia said. “I think Dave Gettleman and Ron Rivera have proven here that there’s a hierarchy and that no player is going to be greater than the team.”