The Carolina Panthers top priority as they turn their focus from Super Bowl 50 to the offseason should be locking up Josh Norman to a long term deal. The Panthers' cornerback was in his final year of his rookie contract and is coming off a career year that saw him elevate himself into the top echelon of cornerbacks.
While both parties would like to work out a long term deal, if that doesn't happen the Panthers could use the franchise tag which general manager Dave Gettleman said they would consider it when he met with reporters on Tuesday. "I always use whatever mechanism is available," Gettleman said.
The Panthers have used the franchise tag in the past and done so as recently as 2014 when they used it to keep defensive end Greg Hardy. The move backfired on the Panthers as Hardy played in only one game and was eventually suspended due to off the field issues.
While the franchise tag is an option, it is not the ideal option for either party. If the franchise tag is used, it will take up a large chunk of the Panthers' salary cap and limit the moves they might be able to make in free agency. While the final figures are not out, former agent Joel Curry provided some insight into what exactly the salaries might be for each position on CBS Sports.
If the Panthers were to sign Norman to the franchise tag, the deal would most likely be around $13,838,000, according to Curry. This would be a 5.83% increase from the franchise tag salary for 2015.
If the franchise tag salary is between 13 and 14 million to keep Norman, that would be a large chunk of the predicted $23,830,220 cap space the Panthers have according to Spotrac.
Meanwhile, while Norman would see a significant pay increase over his base salary of $1,542,000, he wouldn't have the security of a long-term deal. He had a career year for the Panthers that included a selection to the Pro Bowl and earning the reputation as one of the top players at his position.
This front office has shown, specifically last year, that they put an emphasis on keeping their players. This past offseason the team was able to agree to contract extensions for Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Greg Olsen and even backup quarterback Derek Anderson.
NFL teams may start designating players they will be using the franchise tag on and have until the deadline on March 1st at 4 PM EST to use this tag.