On Wednesday April 20th, the Carolina Panthers rescinded the franchise tag originally placed on their All-Pro corner Josh Norman. Instantly making him the biggest name free agent available on the market. Possibly the biggest name free agent of 2016.
By Thursday April 21st, the Washington Redskins had become one of the “front-runners” for Norman’s services, per NFL Insider Ian Rapoport. Even after not having been looked at as a real contender for any of the other highly regarded corners on the market, early on in free agency.
By Friday afternoon, after his scheduled visit to the first of many teams interested in his services– he had officially become a Washington Redskin. This feels eerily familiar.
Josh Norman as I eluded to in an article earlier this week, is viewed as one of the best corners in the league. The aggressive 6’0″ 195lb defender has ideal size and strength to match up with today’s bigger receivers. And the footwork and fundamentals necessary to be an elite level difference maker on the outside, according to former NFL standout Chad Ochocinco.
He has the skill set of a cover corner but played in a zone scheme, his hips/footwork & transition are 💯 https://t.co/JTla3x2xXf
— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) April 22, 2016
And for a team that ranked 25th in the league last year in passing defense, this signing helped as soon as Josh put pen to paper on Friday.
Josh Norman does not play free safety. He also doesn’t play strong safety. Nor does he play defensive end, nose tackle, inside linebacker or offensive lineman. And for a team that was $12M under the cap prior to this signing, that is saying a lot.
FIVE YEARS, $75,000,000.00. $51M GUARANTEED. $36M GUARANTEED AS SOON AS HE FINISHED PUTTING THE TAIL ON THE END OF THE “n” IN HIS LAST NAME.
Thankfully, GM Scot McCloughan’s time of the year is approaching next weekend, the NFL Draft. And with his desire to add at least four more picks to the eight that Washington already has, he will look to continue increasing the level of depth and talent to the roster. Potentially adding guys who can contribute in some capacity, right away. Possibly even as a starter(s).
Which brings us to the reason, why this signing makes me extremely nervous.
Everything about the lead up to this deal, screams of how things were done with this franchise prior to last offseason. Dan’s private jet was wheeled out. Norman’s entire family was brought to the DMV for the trip. And a mega-deal was struck soon after, for a team that is no where close to being a “one player away” type of team.
Does Norman address a glaring need, without question. Norman is a legit stud. But a deal of this size, for a player at this position, when you have a young QB currently franchised for $19.95M– due what will likely be a nine figure deal this year or next. A young superstar TE in Jordan Reed, coming off of a breakthrough season heading into a contract year. And a young corner in Bashaud Breeland, on the verge of being a very good player in his own right, just two years away from needing to be paid. Can you say, timing?
The whole thing screams hasty impatience. The type of which belongs to a meddlesome owner, who for years not only couldn’t get out of his own way. He also was unable to see that he was the key to all of the dysfunction that plagued this franchise for a decade plus.
For all that we’ve heard about Scot McCloughan and his process of drafting and paying his guys, making smart free agent moves to fill in gaps where needed– this move seems to fall far outside of it. Dan sat on the sidelines for a year, and then Carolina (understandably so) gave him a chance to get back in the game. Dan you’ve had your fun now. Step away from your checkbook.
Here’s to hoping I’m way off.
Welcome to Washington, Josh.