It's rare that an NFL team makes a major signing this late in the offseason. But that's exactly what Washington did when they inked star cornerback Josh Norman to a deal, the team announced on Friday. The deal is for five years and $75 million, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. He also reported that the deal included $50 million guaranteed.
The Carolina Panthers franchised Norman prior to the start of free agency, but then rescinded the tag April 20. When asked to explain the decision, Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said it became apparent the team wouldn't be able to reach a long-term deal with Norman.
"After a number of conversations with Josh's agent, we realized that a long-term deal was not attainable," Gettleman said. "We have decided to rescind the franchise tag, freeing Josh to immediately become an unrestricted free agent. We thank Josh for his contributions and truly wish him well."
According to the Charlotte Observer's Joe Person, Gettleman was only willing to pay Norman $11 million per season on a long-term deal. With the franchise tag for cornerbacks set at $13.9 million and the two sides apparently far apart in negotiations, it seemed inevitable that Norman would hold out. The Panthers opted to avoid that drama.
It's understandable that Norman, 28, would want to cash in after a career season. The 2012 fifth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina intercepted four passes and shut down some of the game's best receivers on a weekly basis in 2015. Dez Bryant, DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones, for example, caught seven out of 18 passes thrown to them for 63 yards and no touchdowns when Norman was covering them last season.
The most entertaining matchup of last season was when Norman covered Odell Beckham Jr., who recorded six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown on the day. The two flamboyant stars got chippy with each other and eventually came to blows.
Besides that dustup, Norman's season was nearly flawless. His rise largely came out of nowhere, too, as he played sporadically in his first two years in the league before settling into a regular role in 2014. In 14 games that season, Norman emerged as a reliable corner, breaking up 11 passes and recording 48 tackles. And now, two years later, he's one of the best cornerbacks in football.