Sunday, February 25, 2018
Sports

All-Pro CB Norman cut loose by Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The free agent cornerback market got more interesting Wednesday.

Josh Norman, one of the league's top corners, became an unrestricted free agent after the Panthers surprisingly rescinded their non-exclusive franchise tag offer to the All-Pro and wished him well — someplace else.

Norman, 28, elected not to sign the franchise tag offer, which would have paid him $13.9 million in 2016, while holding out for a long-term contract. The sides could never agree on monetary compensation.

Now Norman can sign with any team.

"After a number of conversations with Josh's agent, we realized that a long-term deal was not attainable," general manager Dave Gettleman said in a release. "We thank Josh for all his contributions and truly wish him well."

A 2012 fifth-round draft pick, Norman had a career-high four interceptions last year and helped the NFC champion Panthers lead the NFL in interceptions (24), takeaways (39) and points off turnovers (148). He also had 16 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Norman didn't want to discuss the Panthers' decision when reached Wednesday night.

"Man, I just don't feel like talking about it right now," he told the Associated Press.

Essentially, Norman was gambling on himself by not signing the team's franchise tag offer, believing he can get more money on the free agent market.

Norman's absence creates a huge void in the Panthers secondary.

Last year's other starter, Charles Tillman, also is a free agent, leaving nickel back Bene Benwikere and journeyman Robert McClain as the only cornerbacks with significant NFL experience.

Norman, a four-year veteran, had been in and out of the starting lineup for the Panthers for 21/2 seasons before emerging as a potential star late in 2014.

Eagles go all-in to get QB: Desperate for a franchise quarterback, the Eagles can get their man next week. The Browns will wait for their guy.

The Eagles acquired the No. 2 overall pick in next week's draft from Cleveland in exchange for five picks. The Browns are getting Philadelphia's first-round pick this year (No. 8), a third-round pick (No. 77) and a fourth-rounder (No. 100), plus a first-rounder in 2017 and a second-rounder in 2018.

Cleveland also sends a fourth-round pick in 2017 to the Eagles.

"It's a tough price to pay," said Howie Roseman, Philadelphia's executive vice president of football operations. "We're very sure we're going to get the player we want. We've spent a ton of time investigating these guys and looked at the quarterback market going forward, and this is a rare opportunity we're in."

The trade allows Philadelphia to select one of the top quarterback prospects, Carson Wentz of North Dakota State or Jared Goff of California, at No. 2. The Rams already acquired the top overall pick from Tennessee for a slew of picks and have indicated they will take a quarterback.

"These guys are pretty even," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said of Wentz and Goff. "From all the physical tools, both of them are extremely gifted. Good arm strength, good mobility. Obviously, Carson is a little bigger, maybe a little better athlete right now. There's not much separating those two."

The Eagles signed Sam Bradford to a $35 million, two-year contract in March. Roseman said he'll be the starter. They also signed backup Chase Daniel to a $21 million, three-year deal. But Roseman couldn't resist an opportunity to move up after acquiring the No. 8 pick from Miami for cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Kiko Alonso and the 13th overall pick.

Cowboys: Starting defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence faces a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, the Dallas Morning News reported.

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