"This is a Business Decision"
GM Dave Gettleman wanted to make it very clear when discussing the Carolina Panthers decision to rescind the franchise tag that is was a business decision. He said that the team initially placed the franchise tag on Josh Norman in hopes to reach a long-term deal. However, as the team went through negotiations it became increasing clear that a "long-term deal was becoming less and less unlikely."
He was also asked if whether or not the decision to make the move now was affected at all by Norman's decision to skip offseason workouts. Gettleman did say that the holdout did not play a role in the team's decision but he also said that they want players "that are all-in." These statements would appear to contradict themselves however these workouts, starting next week, are voluntary and could raise issues if this played a factor, and in essence implying that it isn't necessarily voluntary.
This Was Not an Easy Decision
The one thing that was clear during their press conference, was that this was not an easy decision, and one that neither Dave Gettleman and Ron Rivera were happy to make. The team made the right decision in allowing Norman to become an unrestricted free agent as it eliminates any potential locker room drama. It also can take away potential distractions for players that might be asked continuously about Norman's absence.
However, watching Gettleman and Rivera's body language and their answers, they had some emotional investment into Josh Norman. In a perfect world, they probably would have wished he was still on the roster and could have come to an agreement on a long-term deal.
One reporter asked Gettleman if the door had closed on a possible return and he responded by saying, "No, no doors have been shut on Josh coming back."
Panthers Like the Additional Cap Space
By rescinding the franchise tag, the Panthers now have close to an additional $14 million available to them to improve the roster and extend contracts for players currently on the roster. When asked what can be done with the extra $14 million, Gettleman responded simply by saying, "A lot."
The team's starting defensive tackles, Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, are rapidly approaching the end of their rookie contracts with Short potentially a free agent after this season and Lotulelei after the next. The Panthers will be looking to keep both players however both will be in line for significant raises on their next deals.
Norman's Absence Doesn't Change Draft Strategy
Dave Gettleman has sounded like a broken record for a few years now but he has always said his philosophy entering the NFL Draft is always to select the best player available. He has certainly stayed true to form over the year and been unorthodox at times. During his first draft, he selected two defensive tackles with his first two picks. Last year, when the team apparently was in desperate need of an offensive tackle selected linebacker Shaq Thompson, who was the best player on their board.
He did open up a bit about the one time he strayed away from the strategy and that was in his first draft when he selected Edmund Kugbila, an offensive guard in the fourth round. Gettleman talked about the fact that they had a third round grade on A.J. Klein but fell in love with the hog molly. Luckily Klein was still on the board when the team was on the clock in the fifth round but Gettleman described it as a rookie mistake.
Great Class of Hog Mollies
Dave Gettleman spoke very highly of this year's class of hog mollies, both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. He mentioned during this press conference that there are four offensive tackles with first round grades. He also specifically mentioned Alabama center Ryan Kelly as a player he was impressed with.
He mentioned during his press conference something former NY Giants head coach Tom Coughlin would say which was: "Big men allow you to compete. It makes people in the back end better." This is clearly a philosophy the Panthers' GM has adopted as evident by the high draft picks he has used on the defensive line with Lotulelei, Short and Kony Ealy, who was a second round pick in 2014.
This is also probably one of the reasons why the Panthers were not willing to meet Norman's contract demands. They would rather invest in the defensive line and try to find bargains in the secondary.
Click here to watch the full press conference.