In a stunning turn of events, the Carolina Panthers rescinded their franchise tag on Josh Norman, released him and then saw the Washington Redskins sign him to a five-year, $75 million contract, which included $51.1 million in guarantees – the most ever for a cornerback.
For many, the Panthers’ decision seemed unnecessary. They had leverage on Norman and elected to give it up.
Was it wise to remove the franchise tag and let Norman walk?
“Financially, yes,” former Panther Frank Garcia said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “When you look at what Dave Gettleman is looking to do here, he’s looking to get the best players, but he’s looking to do it for the right price. I think when they started evaluating everything and realizing what they wanted to pay Josh Norman wasn’t what somebody else was willing to pay – I think that’s just part of the business when you look at the NFL for the Carolina Panthers.”
Norman, 28, became perhaps the best shutdown corner in the NFL last season. He had 56 tackles, four interceptions, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and routinely took away half of the field for opposing offenses.
“(The Panthers) lost a good football player,” Garcia said. “They’re not going to be able to replace him this year, but they believe in their system and they believe with what they’re doing that that’s not an impact position and they’d rather probably use that money elsewhere. That part I agree with. You have small windows of opportunity in the NFL to be successful. Some teams have longer than others, but a lot of that has to do with how your quarterback plays.”
Take Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for example. Or Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
“Franchise quarterbacks don’t come around very often, and I believe they got one with Cam,” Garcia said. “So if I’m a football player, if I’m a guy on that team, I’m a little disappointed that Josh Norman’s not coming back. I think that’s going to be the difficult part. The interesting thing here in Carolina is that we haven’t heard the grumbling from some of the other guys, so they may be okay with it as well.”
But why not keep Norman on the roster for one more year, defend your NFC crown and try to find a long-term deal with Norman in the interim?
“That’s what the franchise tag is intended for,” Garcia said. “I hate the franchise tag if I’m a player. I played my entire career to test the market in free agency. When you put that franchise tag on me, it kind of ticks me off a little bit when other teams are offering me $75 million and you’re offering me $44 million over the long term. So that was kind of a slap in the face to Josh Norman’s agent and Josh Norman. . . . I just don’t know how you justify paying Josh Norman more than Luke Kuechly. I know that’s sometimes situational. Quarterbacks make more than other players even though they may not be the best player. But when you’re on the defense and you feel like Luke Kuechly is your best player, you have a number in mind. You have to pay franchise-type players, and I just don’t know if they felt Josh Norman was that type of guy.”