The Carolina Panthers used their franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman to keep the cornerback in Charlotte for at a minimum one more season and also provide them a few months to reach a long-term deal.
According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, Norman is looking for an average salary around $16 million per year. If he was to get this type of contract, it would make Norman the highest paid cornerback in the league based on the average salary by almost $2 million per season. It would also make him the seventh highest defensive player in the entire NFL.
Right now there are three cornerbacks with an average salary above $14 million: NY Jets' Darrelle Revis ($14,024,212), Arizona Cardinals' Patrick Peterson ($14,010,000) and Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman ($14,000,000). Under the franchise tag, Norman would make $13,952,000 next season when he signs the offer.
The Panthers are certainly in a tough position with these negotiations as Norman is coming off a career year with four interceptions, two defensive touchdowns and his first selections to the Pro Bowl and the first-team All-Pro. There is no question that their defense is stronger with him on the field.
Norman meanwhile is looking for a big pay day and wants to capitalize on the excellent season he just had. However, this was the first time he played a full season as a starter after only entering the starting lineup halfway through the 2014 season. The organization might want to see him prove this level of play over a longer period of time before committing this kind of salary to the cornerback.
Both sides appear dug in and it will be interesting to see if either side will bug over the coming weeks. Norman has already hinted at the fact that he won't be participating in offseason activites, which he can since he has not signed the franchise tag offer yet.
The two sides will have until July 15th to work out a new long term deal.
*All contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.com