According to several media outlets, including a report from ESPN on Monday, Josh Norman made a last minute attempt to either sign his franchise tag or work out a one-year deal at market value so he could remain with the Panthers. Norman told ESPN that Panthers’ General Manager Dave Gettleman told him it was too late and placed the blame on Norman’s former agent, Michael George.
The Panthers rescinded the tag on Wednesday, which made Norman an unrestricted free agent. Norman signed a five-year, $75 million deal with the Washington Redskins last Friday.
According to the ESPN report, Norman didn’t sign the franchise tag, which would have guaranteed him $13.952 million in 2016, because George said it was not in Norman’s best interest in terms of leverage.
George and Norman were seeking a long-term deal for what they considered market value, between $15 million and $16 million per year. Gettleman offered a four-year deal worth $11 million annually at the NFL combine and never backed off that, according to a league source.
“My agent called them up and said if they wanted to do something, like a one-year, market-value,” Norman told ESPN.com on Monday. “We wanted to come back. They said they weren’t willing to, so we had to do what we had to do. My hands were tied in the whole thing.”
The ESPN report said George and Norman were seeking a long-term deal for what they considered market value, between $15 million and $16 million per year. Gettleman offered a four-year deal worth $11 million annually at the NFL combine and never backed off that, according to a league source. Norman told ESPN he had no idea the difference in what he was asking and what was being offered was so large.
“Then again, it goes to show how much they value me,” Norman told ESPN. “I kind of got a little read into it when they talked about who their core guys were and I wasn’t mentioned in that core.
“So, shoot, man, it started all setting in my mind to where I never would have been there [long-term] anyway.”
Norman was caught off guard when George informed him the tag had been rescinded. Norman was already in the process of signing a new agent, Ryan Williams, Norman said he asked Williams call the Panthers to see if something could be worked out, but by that time the Panthers had filed the tag paperwork with the league and decided to move on.
“I was going to make the move regardless of whether they rescinded the tag or not,” Norman told ESPN about the decision to hire a new agent. “He was already on the plane to be there. It just made it an easier transition.”
Norman also said he would have signed the tag earlier had he known the situation had gotten to the point that Gettleman was ready to move on.
“If I would have known, we could have come to some kind of agreement to where, all right, if this is the case, let me get this out of the way and we can work on something different,” Norman said. “I didn’t know all that went down like it did. If would have known that, of course I would have liked to have stayed there. Why would I want to leave there? But he tied my hands in the whole process.”
Norman blamed Gettleman for not letting him know the Panthers’ stance before rescinding the offer.
“Who else am I going to blame?” Norman said. “He did it.”
Norman told ESPN he tried to reach out to Gettleman after the offer was rescinded.
“I asked him what was up,” he said. “Shoot, I dedicated all my life there, put in blood and tears. … He was like, ‘Yeah, man. I’m sorry. Your agent is a reflection of you.’ I didn’t even know none of that was going on. It is what it is. I’m here in a better place. I ain’t trippin’.”
Gettleman said in explaining the decision to rescind the tag that the team decided there was more it could do with the $14 million in cap space that Norman would have taken. The general manager said it was apparent that no long-term deal would be reached with the 2012 fifth-round pick.
“As we got deeper in conversations, we realized there was a significant difference between our thoughts and theirs,” Gettleman told ESPN on Thursday. “The intervening weeks gave us additional time to evaluate where we are going as a franchise. With the realization that a deal was not going to get done, our internal conversations kept leading us to the fact that the one-year deal was becoming less and less attractive.”
Ultimately the Panthers rescinded the offer, making them eligible for a compensatory draft pick in 2017 that likely will be a third-rounder.
Norman said he will miss his Carolina teammates and holds no animosity toward them.