Amid a relentless run of NFL Draft came a stunning story about free agency Wednesday when the Carolina Panthers withdrew the franchise tag on Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman. Having a player of Norman's talent available this deep into the offseason changed plans all over the league as teams pondered adding a very pricy but very talented defender.
Pondering is one thing, action is another. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, one of the teams giving a long look at the situation is the Washington Redskins.
Carolina placed the franchise tag on Norman last month, guaranteeing him $13.952 million in 2016. However, the corner, seeking a long-term deal never signed the tag. By comparison, Redskins QB Kirk Cousins signed his franchise tag with both sides hoping to agree on a multi-year deal. The situation escalated with Norman, who turns 29 during the 2016 season, planning to skip at least the first part of offseason workouts that begin on Monday. Per ESPN:
According to a league source, Norman was seeking a long-term deal worth between $15 million and $16 million a year, an estimate based on what could be had on the open market. The Panthers made one offer for close to $11 million and never moved off that mark, according to the source.
The Redskins have a quality pair of corners in the rising Bashaud Breeland and veteran Chris Culliver, whose first season in Washington ended with a torn ACL knee injury. Culliver's rehab status is one of the main question marks heading into the new season. Either, neither CB is at the level of Norman. In today's NFL, few if any are.
Schefter reported on ESPN Wednesday that Norman's initial preference involves playing for a California team. San Francisco has the most cap space available in the NFL. Washington is middle of the pack, but can create more easy enough (keep reading).
Shortly after the initial news from the Panthers broke, Breaking Burgundy film analyst Paul Conner expressed his thoughts on the Redskins possibly adding Norman. This included a reminder that Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan held the same position when the San Francisco 49ers signed a different CB to a lucrative deal that at the time was the highest ever for a defensive player.
The Redskins can reportedly waive Culliver, who signed a four-year deal last year, without facing a cap hit due to a contract clause pertaining to his league suspension last season. It might be that easy transactionally, but McCloughan made Culliver one of his first signings as Redskins GM.
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