The Redskins signed former Panthers cornerback Josh Norman on Friday, making a bold—and costly—move designed to shore up a pass defense that ranked 25th in 2015. The move was reported by multiple media sources, including Rand Getlin and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
CSNmidatlantic.com has confirmed the news.
Norman instantly becomes Washington’s best player on defense, having earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors last season while playing for the Super Bowl runners up. And, although precise figures have yet to emerge, the 28-year-old is expected to become the Redskins’ highest paid player on defense and the team’s second highest paid player behind quarterback Kirk Cousins, who will earn almost $20 million this season.
Norman is a feisty player known for his swashbuckling confidence. He's also known for backing up his brash talk with big plays and steady production. Last season, he notched career highs in passes defended (18), interceptions (4) and forced fumbles (3). His two interceptions returned for a touchdown were tied for the most in the NFL.
ProFootballFocus.com rated Norman, a 2012 fifth round pick who had spent his entire career in Carolina, as the sixth best cornerback in football a year ago.
Although Norman is changing teams, the learning curve is not expected to be very steep. He played a lot of zone coverage in Carolina. The Redskins play a lot of zone under defensive coordinator Joe Barry.
The Redskins could put Norman opposite Bashaud Breeland, giving the Redskins a top-tier veteran on one side of the field and an emerging star on the other. Assuming Chris Culliver returns to form after suffering a torn ACL in November, that could give the Redskins a trio of physical, productive and proven corners on the backend.
For all the above reasons, the addition of Norman makes a lot of sense for a Redskins’ team that went 9-7 last season and is attempting to take the next step. But the signing doesn’t come without a couple of questions. For one, can Norman achieve the same level of play with different players around him and different coaches asking different things of him? And two, why did a quality team allow an All-Pro corner to walk out the door without any compensation?
We don’t have the answers to either of those questions. But we know this much: if Norman can reproduce the season he had last year, he’ll be worth the price of admission…and then some.
Think about this Redskins fans: Norman will get to face his former team in Week 15 at FedEx Field, on Monday Night Football nonetheless. You’ll also get to see him match up against Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant two times each season.