NFL Free Agency 2020: 5 Teams Where Josh Norman Can Still Make an Impact

John Healy
February 21, 2020 - 8:00 am

The passer rating against Josh Norman in 2015, when he was awarded a place on the Pro Bowl roster and was named a first-team All-Pro cornerback, was 58.1.

To put that number in perspective, Andy Dalton, who led the Bengals to a 2-11 record in his 2019 starts and was benched in favor of Ryan Finley, had a 78.3 passer rating this past season.

Norman, the fifth-round pick who exceeded above all expectations as a Carolina Panther, made opposing quarterbacks perform worse -- significantly worse -- than Andy Dalton, the worst statistical quarterback of this past year. He was that good.

But had Dalton gotten to play against the 2019 version of Josh Norman, his passer rating may have gone up a few ticks. That’s because Norman, once considered a shutdown cornerback, was nothing short of awful last year.

Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, finished the season with a 113.3 passer rating. Quarterbacks who threw in the direction of Norman this year had a rating of 133.3. Of 83 eligible cornerbacks, Pro Football Focus placed Norman’s performance at No. 82.

It’s no wonder, then, that the Redskins decided to bench him toward the end of the season and ultimately cut ties with him this February, incurring a $3 million cap hit.

After last year, he doesn’t necessarily warrant the title of a high-priority free agent, but given that he was a serviceable cornerback just a year ago and an elite defender in 2015, there are teams in need of secondary support that could come calling. The 5-year, $75 million contract he signed with the Redskins will be nothing like the deals teams will be able to make with him now, making his candidacy a little bit more alluring at this point.

Here are five teams who could use the 32-year-old veteran in their defensive corps.

Josh Norman walks off the field in a game against the Eagles.
Photo credit Getty Images

Detroit Lions

Darius Slay is seemingly on his way out, as several teams are looking to engage in trade talks with the Lions for the high-priced corner. Jeff Okudah, the prized cornerback out of Ohio State, has been viewed as a good fit for the Lions as a potential replacement for Slay.

Of course, these are two hypotheticals, but they come with sound reasoning. So why not add a third hypothetical? Josh Norman would help bolster the secondary that, without Slay, would be fairly inexperienced and could be moving on from free agent Rashaan Melvin, and would thus only have one regular starter remaining in Justin Coleman.

Norman would be a relatively inexpensive veteran presence to help bolster the corps, provide guidance to Okudah and the rest of the secondary and likely earn a starting role right away.

Houston Texans

Bradley Roby and Jonathan Joseph, who comprised $15 million of the Texans’ free agent budget last season, are both free agents this offseason. Joseph, 36, may be on his last legs and wasn’t spectacular last season. Roby is a realistic candidate to re-sign in Houston, but he alone won’t be enough to solve the pass defense woes from last year.

The Texans, given their $60+ million in cap space, only have one real high-priority free agent that they will be looking to retain in D.J. Reader. The secondary is an area where they should think about spending a considerable amount of money, and Norman may be one of the many acquisitions they make at the position in order to boost a pass defense that ranked 29th out of 32 in passing yards allowed last season.

Philadelphia Eagles

Redskins CB Josh Norman greets Carson Wentz after a game.
Photo credit Getty Images

The Eagles have already been linked to both Slay and free agent Byron Jones this offseason, meaning that they’re not only in the market for a proven quarterback, but that they’re also willing to pay up. Though the team could additionally draft a cornerback, their desire for a top-tier rookie wide receiver seems pretty clear.

That means that even if they do add a high-profile, expensive cornerback to their ranks, which seems to be the primary goal of the offseason, they could still go for another in free agency, and Norman would likely still fit in their budget. Philly has never been one to shy away from a loud and outspoken presence (see: DeSean Jackson), and so Norman’s unapologetic nature could be a natural fit in Philadelphia.

Kansas City Chiefs

As of right now, the Chiefs have four cornerbacks signed that are set to earn an amount that is under $2.5 million in 2020. Bashaud Breeland is an aging free agent, but is definitely a potential option for the Chiefs to re-sign. Other than that, there isn’t too much to work with in-house.

That said, the Chiefs don’t have a lot of cap room -- especially given the fact that they are set on keeping Chris Jones -- and need some more secondary help, and if the reigning Super Bowl champions want to sign a proven cornerback, there may not be much better value out there than Norman.

Carolina Panthers

Josh Norman daps up Cam Newton before a game vs. the Panthers.
Photo credit Getty Images

Norman’s history in Carolina is troubled after a pretty ugly falling out between the cornerback and then-Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman. However, if you look around Bank of America Stadium, there are no traces of Dave Gettleman to be found. New ownership, a new coaching staff and a very realistic new vacancy at cornerback could all be awaiting Josh Norman.

James Bradberry is one of the prized free agent cornerbacks of the 2020 class, but the Panthers, as long as they’re stuck with Cam Newton, have a fairly tight payroll to work with. Norman’s inexpensive tag could prove to be a fruitful investment for Carolina, and it may also be his chance to exact some revenge on Gettleman for rescinding his franchise tag.

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