Free agency took a back seat to the draft in these parts over recent days. Whatever conversations occurred centered on quality and niche additions, similar to the kind the Washington Redskins made over the first six weeks of free agency. Make a big splashy move, nah.
When the Carolina Panthers surprisingly let Pro Bow corner Josh Norman test free agency this week, whispers began around water coolers. When reports surfaced early Thursday that Washington was indeed kicking the tires, social media conversations became bolder. Now that Norman is set to visit Redskins Park Friday, folks are either jabbering about the sudden turn or speechless over what this could mean for the NFC East champs.
Here's where the discussion could turn anytime, especially if the Redskins lock up the game-changing corner: What's the deal with Josh Norman?
Norman, 28, grew up in Greenwood, South Carolina and attended mid-major Coastal Carolina where he graduated with a communications major and dramatic arts minor. Players who finish what they started by obtaining a college degree is something McCloughan likes in prospects.
The 6-foot-0, 200-pounder was selected in the fifth-round of the 2012 NFL Draft by his hometown team after a strong showing in the annual East-West Shrine Game.
As a rookie, Norman played in all 16 games - 12 starts. Despite a solid rookie season, Norman was looked over on the depth chart in 2013 as he started zero games. He was a healthy scratch on multiple occasions.
Midway through the 2014 campaign, Norman had regained his starting role in the Panthers defense. During the course of the season, Norman was targeted 58 times by opposing quarterbacks, but only allowed 27 catches for 291 yards (5.02 yards/attempt). The 46.6 percent catch rate was second best among starters behind only Indianapolis' Vontae Davis.
Then came his breakout 2015 campaign. Norman established himself as one of if not arguably the best cover-corner in the league. The basics numbers are impressive: 18 passes defended, four interceptions, three forced fumbles, and two touchdowns. Opposing quarterbacks had a terrible passer rating of 54.0 when targeting Norman, the lowest allowed by all NFL corners. Yet his impact went beyond mere numbers.
Norman essentially eliminated opposing team's best receiving threat because of hesitancy to throw in his direction. Norman was first-team All-Pro in 2015 as well as PFF all-third year team in 2014. He is arguably the best cover corner in the game right now and is an elite talent any team would love to have.
Maybe most notably remembered, Norman was in a heated scrap with Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in Carolina's Week 15 win. Should he join the Redskins, we get Norman v. Beckham twice during the regular season.
Speaking of the schedule, Washington hosts Carolina in Week 15 on Monday Night. No doubt Norman circles that game and no doubt the scenario would remind the Redskins fan base about DeSean Jackson, who Washington brought on a visit two years ago and never let him leave.
Here's another no doubt: Plenty of Norman jersey in Redskins colors pop up at FedEx Field next season if he sets up shop in Washington.
Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.
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