The Carolina Panthers shocked the football world Wednesday when they rescinded the franchise tag from shutdown cornerback Josh Norman. Now, the Washington Redskins hope to pounce on his newly-anointed status as an unrestricted free agent.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Redskins are one of several teams pursuing Norman. Washington joins the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and others who have made a pitch to the 2015 first-team All-Pro.
Norman posted career-highs last season in passes defended (19), interceptions (four), interception return yards (110), and forced fumbles (four) while helping lead the Panthers to the franchise’s second Super Bowl.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman issued a curious statement upon making Norman free to sign with any team. “After a number of conversations with Josh’s agent we realized that a long-term deal was not attainable,” Gettleman said in a statement. “We have decided to rescind the franchise tag freeing Josh to immediately become a UFA. We thank Josh for all his contributions and truly wish him well.”
Norman already has a history with the NFC East. His numerous skirmishes with New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in Week 15 made national headlines last season. The two would have to face off twice a season should Norman join the Redskins.
Right now, Washington’s top cornerbacks include Bashaud Breeland, Chris Culliver, Greg Toler and Quinton Dunbar. Breeland is set to become a free agent after the 2017 season, Culliver missed 10 games in 2015 after signing a four-year, $32 million deal last offseason, Toler signed a one-year deal with the Redskins last week and Dunbar is coming off of an eye-opening rookie campaign after switching from wide receiver to defensive back.
Carolina boasted the 11th-best passing defense (234.5 yards per game) in the NFL last season while the Redskins placed 25th by allowing 258 yards per game. The Redskins remained quiet in the offseason, signing mainly reserves and special teamers.