The hot button topic for the Carolina Panthers this offseason is what to do about their star cornerback Josh Norman, who was in his final year of his contract last season. He would be entering the offseason as the top cornerback on the free agent market however it doesn't appear he will get to the open market, according to GM Dave Gettleman.
During his press conference on Wednesday at the NFL Combine, he was asked about the impending negotiations with Norman and Gettleman mentioned that he doesn't talk about contract negotiations. However, he did go on to say that "they would try and get a deal done but if not, there are options."
Those options certainly would imply the franchise tag, which would keep the cornerback in Charlotte on a one-year deal, at a salary of an average of the Top 5 salaries at the position. This would expect to be north of $13 million dollars.
The one thing that has been made clear over the past few seasons, in particular last offseason, is that this team believes in keeping their own players. They were able to work out contract extensions with players like Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly, who were both drafted by the organization.
"I don't believe in drafting, developing players for other teams," said Gettleman. "For some reason, it just doesn't make sense." He has certainly proven that point so far in his time with the Panthers and this should instill some confidence that the team will be able to work out a deal with Norman.
If some reason they are not, the front office has also shown they are not afraid to use the franchise tag, which they did two offseasons ago for defensive end Greg Hardy. The franchise tag does affect some players, leaving them a bit disgruntled because it limits their ability to earn more money on the open market. Gettleman said that he isn't concerned about this because "Josh is a pro."
While a $13 million dollar salary seems to be a rather large price tag, Norman has made a strong case to be paid as one of the top cornerbacks in the league. He started the year with four interceptions in the first four games, including returning two for touchdowns. This helped catapult him to his first Pro Bowl and first All-Pro selection this past season.