The market for Josh Norman is as hot as expected.
The Miami Dolphins are one of at least 10 teams to reach out about the free-agent cornerback, an indication that whoever lands the All-Pro will be paying top dollar to get him.
And the early leaders of the Norman Derby? The San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins, NFL Network reported Thursday evening.
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Norman, cut loose by the Panthers Wednesday after a contract dispute, is expected to command as much as $16 million a year.
The Dolphins, who have a glaring need at the position, are already paying two players that much or more: Ndamukong Suh and Ryan Tannehill.
Can they afford a third?
It would be tight financially, but doable. They have some $20 million in cap space this year, and could clear more by restructuring Mike Pouncey’s contract and cutting suspended pass-rusher Dion Jordan.
Plus, they have a structural advantage on teams in other states with no Florida income tax. Still, it’s an uphill battle, as teams like the 49ers have more money to spend.
Norman is available because the Panthers stunned the league Wednesday by rescinding his one-year, $14 million franchise tag. The two sides were far apart on a long-term deal.
Some around the league question whether Norman is worth in excess of $15 million a year; “good, not great” is how one AFC executive put it.
Still, based on the the demand, it appears likely that Norman will get the payday he wants.
Anything more than $14.02 million per year would make Norman the highest-paid corner in the world.