Josh Norman: Four Fits For The Free Agent Cornerback
Josh Norman is officially an unrestricted free agent after the Carolina Panthers rescinded the franchise tag they had placed on him. Norman now hits the market after most teams have already used up the majority of their cap space. Still, there are a few teams with cap room who also have a need at cornerback. Here’s a look at four teams who could use Norman.
The Browns made one big splash on Wednesday when they traded the second pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to stockpile a bunch of selections. It was a prudent, well-considered move by Cleveland’s new front office. Now it’s time to overpay for a cornerback!
The Browns have a whopping $39.8 million in cap space right now and could use another shut down cornerback. With Joe Haden on one side, the opposite spot was manned by Tramon Williams in 2015. Williams is solid at times, but he’s 33 years old and isn’t close to the player Norman is.
The Browns have had a quiet offseason and could use some kind of splash to show they are serious about actually making the team competitive. Pairing two of the top corners in football would be exactly that kind of move.
Don’t look now but the Jaguars are serious about building a tough defense. They signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson and corner Prince Amukamara this offseason. Even with those moves, the Jags still have an NFL-high $53.7 million in cap space available.
Norman would likely want somewhere around $15 million a year and Jacksonville could more than manage that. The Jaguars are a team that is stockpiling talent on both sides of the football and signing Norman would announce to the world that they were finally ready to play with the big boys consistently.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs added Brent Grimes in free agency, but he’s 32 years old and on the own side of his career. Cornerback is arguably the team’s top need and Tampa Bay currently has around $16 million in cap space available. Any deal with Norman would have to be structured in a way to keep the Bucs under the cap but that shouldn’t be difficult.
When the Bucs won big for years, they did it with defense. Adding Norman to a defensive core that already boasts LaVonte David and Kwon Alexander would be a major coup.
The Bears found a gem when they drafted Kyle Fuller with their first-round pick in 2014. Sadly, despite the presence of Tracy Porter, the secondary must be improved. Chicago has $22.1 million in cap space and would love to bring in a guy like Norman to complement Fuller. Porter was re-signed in the offseason, but he could slide down to a slot-corner position and let Fuller and Norman man the outside spots.
Norman would be a fantastic fit in the NFC North, where the Bears have to contend with Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and an emerging Teddy Bridgewater. A second shutdown corner would help level the playing field for Chicago.