What a whirlwind week it has been for Josh Norman. First, he finds out that the Carolina Panthers rescinded the franchise tender they offered him. Then, when he found out it was too late to go back after some bad business between his former agent and his former team, he found himself courted by the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints. In the end, he wound up signing with Washington, getting the money he was seeking to the tune of $75 million with $50 million guaranteed over the course of five years.
Before he could sign with the Redskins, he had to have that as an option. Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman did not want to pay Norman $15 million a year and rescinded the franchise tag on Wednesday. Norman said he got “sideswiped and didn’t see it coming.” There are multiple reports that go into detail about Norman’s former agent and the disconnect with Gettleman, leading to his sudden availability.
Norman didn’t want to leave the Panthers and why would he? Last season he helped lead Carolina to a 15-1 regular season record and was 60 minutes away from winning the Super Bowl. Plus, this team will be in Super Bowl contention for the foreseeable future. He was born and raised in South Carolina and attended college at Coast Carolina University, where he would earn a scholarship after his true freshman campaign. He wanted to remain a Panther, but that wasn’t how the cards were dealt.
He would make a last-ditch effort to either sign the franchise tender or work on a one-year deal, but Gettleman said it was too late and that it was Norman’s now former agent, Michael George’s fault. George and Norman were seeking a long-term deal in the area of $15-16 million per year. Gettleman offered $11 million annually over four seasons. He wouldn’t budge on that offer.
When the franchise tag was given to Norman on March 1, he said he would have signed it, but George advised him to not sign as it would harm any leverage Norman would have. Norman would hire a new agent, Ryan Williams after he found out the franchise tag was rescinded.
Norman would contact Gettleman to see what had happened and explained to him he didn’t want to leave and he put his all into the Panthers after being a Carolina kid. Gettleman said “Yeah, man. I’m sorry. Your agent is a reflection of you.”
That doesn’t seem right. Norman, who is 28-years old and one of the rising corners in the league, didn’t even know anything about this. So how can his agent be a reflection of him if his now former agent didn’t relay the message? The NFL is a multibillion-dollar global conglomerate and at the end of the day, business is business, for better or worse.
Now, Norman gets a new start for a team that actually wants him.
At the press conference on Monday, Norman said he sat in a room, staring at a wall and didn’t want to be around anybody when he found out he had become a free agent and that his team he loved so much didn’t want him anymore. He said it shook the foundation of everything he knew. However, that is now a thing of the past and something will motivate and fuel him.
“You can’t see it, but I’m carrying a big bag on my back and I brought it here and it’s pretty, pretty heavy” – Josh Norman
He also vowed to “work, work, work” for the team that believed in him.
Norman would explain that signing with Washington was a family decision involving his mother, father and brothers. When the Saints made a late push to try and sign him, he let his family vote and it was a unanimous choice for him to join the Redskins.
He said it made him feel good to be recruited as he was never heavily recruited in his whole life. He also heard some things from past free agents that signed with Washington.
“I heard, once they let you in, they won’t let you out. I started looking up Redskins colors online,” Norman said of his recruitment and pitch attempt from Washington.
Washington won the NFC East a season ago and that caught the attention of Norman, who said “This team, I’m telling you is on the rise. We’re on the rise, man, whether you’re on the train or not.”
He said once he signed, Washington owner Daniel Snyder said to him “Be yourself. Be a leader.”
General manager Scot McCloughan, who spoke ahead of Norman, said “He’s at the prime of his career and is going to help us win games.” He said the Redskins had their eye on Norman had he become a free agent when free agency opened, and wanted to be the first to make a pitch to him. He said they contacted Norman within 10 minutes of learning Norman was a free agent.
It’s not every day that a high caliber player becomes a free agent in the same week of the draft, but Washington won’t complain. Now, we will get to see Norman vs Odell Beckham Jr of the New York Giants twice a year. Last year, the two continuously kept going after one another when the Panthers and Giants met. He will also cover Dallas Cowboys wide out Dez Bryant twice a year.
Over the past few seasons, the Washington front office has made some pretty solid moves and this is another one. Norman will now have the opportunity to prove to Gettleman that he was in fact worth the money he was seeking and prove to McCloughan and Snyder right in signing him. After all, he was named an All-Pro last season as he limited the likes of Julio Jones, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson when matched up against them.
Norman didn’t want to leave the Panthers, but business is business and now he will play for the defending NFC East champions. Not too bad for a fifth round pick out of Costal Carolina.