Two days after having his franchise tag rescinded by the Carolina Panthers, All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman will meet with his first NFL team and potential employer on Friday in the Washington Redskins since becoming an unrestricted free agent. Norman is reportedly seeking a five-year deal somewhere in the $14-15 million range according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. With the Redskins getting the first crack at landing Norman, let’s talk about how the franchise could go about clearing up salary cap space and whether or not there is a legitimate chance that Josh Norman will be calling the Nation’s capital his home for the next five years.
Currently, the Redskins have $11 million in open salary cap space to work with. Obviously, if the Redskins are going to sign Josh Norman, they will have to find a way to clear up at least $4 million in cap space unless they are able to somehow low-ball Norman into agreeing to an $11 million deal for this season and then guarantee him big money in the future. After Norman turned down the 1-year, $14 million offer from Carolina which forced him to become a free agent, it is unlikely that he would be willing to take less money in Washinton than he would have gotten in Carolina. However, if the Redskins offer Norman $16-17 million guaranteed for each of the next 4-5 years, it would balance out to a number more desirable for Norman.
Opening Up Space
If the Redskins were to try to open up salary cap space instead of attempting to low-ball Norman with the first year of his potential long-term deal, they would have to restructure quite a few contracts and allow a significant amount of players to accept deals where they would be making more guaranteed money in the future. Who would the Redskins decide to restructure you ask? Likely, it would be players they know will be on the team for the long haul such as OG Brandon Scherff, CB Chris Culliver, and OT Trent Williams (all have at least three years left on their current contracts). Outside of these players, there really are not any large contracts on this team for players who will likely be a part of this organization three or four seasons down the road.
If the Redskins are able to sign Josh Norman, it could cause some drastic roster changes to come into effect throughout the next few seasons. With Kirk Cousins currently under the franchise tag, the Redskins will have to pay him big money following the 2016 season if a deal does not get done this offseason with the former Michigan State QB, or, Washington will be forced to let him walk. If the Redskins decide to sign Cousins either during this offseason or at the end of next season, it will make it almost impossible for Washington to also re-sign wideouts DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, who are both due to be UFA’s at the end of the 2016 season. Also, adding to the Redskins potential problems is the fact that their top pass catcher and arguably their best offensive player in Jordan Reed will also have his contract expire after this season. In 2015, Reed led the team in touchdowns (11), and receiving yards (952), so it is safe to say that Jordan Reed is going to want big money. If the Redskins sign Josh Norman this week to a long-term deal, they will likely only be able to re-sign one of these four offensive players next season. And, seeing how all four of these players in Cousins, Reed, Jackson, and Garcon were the Redskins’ entire offense in 2015, losing three of these four would almost certainly prove to be devastating to their offense. The fact that the Redskins will be unable to use the franchise tag (used it this offseason on Cousins) also does not do them any favors when it comes to being able to keep their team together during 2017 free agency.
In all, signing Josh Norman would be a huge move for the Redskins for this season, but in the long run, it could prove to be fatal for Washington’s offense due to salary cap restrictions and pending 2017 free agents.