The NFL offseason never ceases to shock.
The Carolina Panthers on Wednesday abruptly rescinded the franchise tag they had placed on Josh Norman, making him a free agent -- and a likely target for the corner-needy Miami Dolphins.
Norman is one of the best corners in the league -- if not the best altogether.
He believed he was worth well more than the $14 million tender placed on him. The Panthers disagreed, and cut him loose.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“After a number of conversations with Josh’s agent we realized that a long-term deal was not attainable,” Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said. “We have decided to rescind the Franchise Tag freeing Josh to immediately become [an unrestricted free agent]. We thank Josh for all his contributions and truly wish him well."
Why does this matter to the Dolphins? Right now, their best corner is Byron Maxwell, whom the Eagles were eager to ship to Miami via a trade.
It is believed that the floor for Norman is $16 million annually. He might fetch more in an open market. The Dolphins can make it work financially; they have upwards of $20 million in cap space this year, but could cut players like Dion Jordan to clear more.
Another reason the Dolphins are likely to have at least cursory interest: football czar Mike Tannebaum loves top-end corners, and went to two straight AFC Championship games with Darrelle Revis anchoring the Jets’ defense.
This great theater comes just eight days before the start of the NFL Draft, in which the Dolphins are expected to take a corner early. That of course would change if they sign Norman.