Reports: Bucs among suitors for Panthers CB Josh Norman
Bucs fans already had unexpected good news Wednesday, learning that the Panthers had pulled their franchise tag from Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman, immediately making him an unrestricted free agent.
But then Wednesday night, there were reports that for many Tampa Bay fans was even bigger: the Bucs are one of nine teams that have expressed interest in signing Norman, who is likely to command more than $12-million a year on a new contract.
Norman, 28, should be well-known to Bucs fans -- he intercepted Jameis Winston twice in their first meeting in Week 4 last season, returning one pick for a touchdown in a 37-23 Panthers win. As it turns out, he would not get another interception the rest of the season, though opponents threw the ball in his direction less after four picks in his first four games.
According to Yahoo, the 49ers and Jaguars, both with ample room under the salary cap, are considered the favorites to land Norman. The Bucs have the ninth-most cap room, and could certainly open up more space with handful of cuts they've held off on making so far. They've already invested in a veteran Pro Bowl corner in Brent Grimes, but Norman would certainly take the Bucs secondary to another level.
How much is Norman worth? Carolina pulled a franchise tender that would have paid him nearly $14-million -- reports have him wanting close to the $16-million per the Bucs had given Darrelle Revis, though no corner in the league averages that much money. Carolina reportedly wanted to pay him closer to $11-million a year, and the gap between the two sides was enough Carolina walked away from the table.
So long as Norman signs before May 12, Carolina should get a high compensatory pick next year for losing him -- if the money is as expected, it could be a third-round pick in 2017, which is also the first year comp picks can be traded.