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Brady, NFLPA should definitely pursue a rehearing before the full Second Circuit

Tom Brady AP

After Judge Richard Berman overturned the four-game suspension imposed by the NFL on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the league exercised its right to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, despite the grumblings of some who thought it was time to end it all and move on.

Now that the NFL has won round two, Brady and the NFL Players Association definitely should proceed with a request for a rehearing before the full court, for a variety of reasons — and regardless of whether anyone now argues that Brady and the NFLPA should take their lumps and let it be.

First, a request for rehearing (which must be filed if at all within 14 days) operates as an automatic stay of the suspension. It means that Brady, if a petition for rehearing is filed, would have his suspension held in abeyance until, at the earliest, the Second Circuit decides not to conduct a rehearing and, at the latest, until the rehearing is resolved with another ruling against Brady and the NFLPA.

If the petition for rehearing is granted, a source with knowledge of the Second Circuit procedures tells PFT that it’s quite possible (if not likely) that Brady will be able to play the entire 2016 season, regardless of the outcome.

Second, the issues in this appeal extend far beyond Brady. This is a question of the power that Commissioner Roger Goodell has when it comes to player discipline. The more power he has, the more it will take at the bargaining table to obtain third-party arbitration in matters involving the Personal Conduct Policy and conduct detrimental to the interests of the league, the two remaining areas in which Goodell serves as judge, jury, and executioner. The less power he has, the less it will take to get the league to surrender the Commissioner’s current power as part of the next CBA.

Third, it simply makes sense to push the case farther. So far, four judges have considered it. Two decided that Brady should win, and two decided that the NFL should win. The situation cries out for a tiebreaker. The only way for that to happen is for Brady and the NFLPA to seek a rehearing before the full Second Circuit.

Fourth, Patriots fans are still up in arms because the team didn’t fight as hard as it did against the punishment imposed by the league. Brady would be wise not to risk drawing their ire by not doing everything in his power to push back against an outcome that the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has declared to be unfair.

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Josh Norman on facing Odell Beckham: It’s gonna be fun

FILE - In this Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, file photo, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) and Carolina Panthers' Josh Norman (24) battle during the first half of an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J. Beckham  isn't changing the way he plays, just the actions that led to his recent one-game suspension for multiple violations of safety-related playing rules. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File) AP

Among the talking points that have cropped up since cornerback Josh Norman’s surprise move from the Panthers to the Redskins is that Norman will be facing off with Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham twice during the 2016 season.

Norman and Beckham engaged in a battle of words leading into last year’s Panthers-Giants game that continued on the field and escalated physically. Both players were penalized during the game and Beckham was suspended the next week as a result of a running shot to Norman’s head at the end of a play.

During Monday’s introductory press conference with the Redskins, Norman was asked about Beckham. He laughed for a bit at a question he had to know was coming and didn’t do much to add to any tension when he eventually responded.

“It’s gonna be fun. He’s a competitor,” Norman said. “I’m gonna play. I’m gonna give everything I got just as well as he is … Whatever happens that day, it will happen. I don’t hold the future. But what I do know is that I’m gonna work my tail off until I see somebody that’s different. That’s all I’m bringing here. Just work. Work, work, work. Dedication to my craft. Everything else is pretty much irrelevant.”

Norman said he’s looking forward to the “best on best” matchups with Beckham and Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant that will be part of the NFC East schedule. He faces those two wideouts in Weeks Two and Three of the regular season and starts off with the Steelers and Antonio Brown, so there will be ample opportunities to provide immediate return on the investment the Redskins made last Friday.

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Roseman on possible Bradford trade demand: “He’s our starting quarterback”

2-sam-bradford-092515-getty-ftrjpg_1tn9q2fg5kbds1uxbsluy2o2c8-2 Getty Images

Eagles executive V.P. of football operations Howie Roseman joined PFT Live on Monday morning, before word broke of quarterback Sam Bradford skipping out on offseason workouts and requesting a trade. I asked Roseman about the then-hypothetical possibility that Bradford would demand a trade.

“Well, Sam is entitled to his feelings but we’ve made it clear to him and to our fans that he’s our starting quarterback,” Roseman said. “We have an obligation to think about our franchise in terms of the total picture. We’re always making decisions that are for the short term and those of that for the long term and that’s our decision here. To invest in quarterbacks is a long-term decision.”

Bradford may be the starting quarterback for now. But it will be hard for Bradford to remain the starting quarterback, if he’s present only for the single mandatory minicamp of the lengthy offseason program. Here’s another factor working against Bradford: Roseman didn’t declare that the quarterback they take with the second overall pick, Jared Goff or Carson Wentz (Wentz), will sit the bench for his full rookie season.

Asked whether there are any circumstances pursuant to which the rookie quarterback would play in 2016, Roseman said, “I think that’s up to Coach [Doug] Pederson and his staff. We’re very fortunate. One of the other things we put into this decision is the support that that quarterback will be able to have. Whether it’s the quarterback room with Sam and Chase [Daniel] or our head coach in Doug who played in the league, coached the position as an offensive coordinator. [Offensive coordinator] Frank Reich, same background. [John DeFilippo] our quarterback coach with a lot of the same background. So that guy is gonna come along at his own pace. There’s no urgency and that’s kind of the model that Doug watched when he was here as a starting quarterback but I think we look at this for the long term and we have a starting quarterback here who we think we can win with for the short term.”

Pederson was indeed the starter in Philly at the outset of the 1999 season, when Donovan McNabb arrived as a top-five draft pick. Pederson started nine games before yielding to McNabb.

Bradford (or Daniel) could start as many or fewer before Wentz takes over. Regardless, Bradford’s absence, temporary or permanent, necessarily gives Wentz a chance to accelerate the timetable for playing.

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Josh Norman responds to Patrick Peterson: I know my worth

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 25:  NFL player Josh Norman attends the Cedars-Sinai Sports Spectacular at W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills on March 25, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Sports Spectacular) Getty Images

Shortly after the Panthers rescinded the franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman, Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson took a shot at Norman, writing on Twitter, “Know your worth.”

As it turned out, Norman was worth more on the free market than just the $14 million franchise tender the Panthers were offering him: Once he hit free agency, Norman promptly signed a five-year, $75 million contract with Washington. At his first press conference in Washington today, Norman jabbed back at Peterson’s comments.

“You’ve got to know yourself, know your worth, huh? I guess I know my worth,” Norman said.

Norman actually wanted to sign the franchise tender when he found out the Panthers were pulling it, so he may not have fully grasped his worth. But in the end, he got more money in Washington than he would have made in Carolina. The free market set what Norman was worth, and it was a lot.

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NFLPA will consider options for proceeding in Brady case

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The decision of two judges of the U.S. Supreme Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to reinstate Tom Brady’s four-game suspension doesn’t end the case. But it definitely makes it harder for Brady and the NFL Players Association to prevail.

“The NFLPA is disappointed in the decision by the Second Circuit,” the NFLPA said in a statement. “We fought Roger Goodell’s suspension of Tom Brady because we know he did not serve as a fair arbitrator and that players’ rights were violated under our collective bargaining agreement. Our Union will carefully review the decision, consider all of our options and continue to fight for players’ rights and for the integrity of the game.”

The options at this point are fairly narrow: Continue the appeal process or end the case.

If the appeal continues, the first step will be to file a petition for rehearing “en banc,” before the entire Second Circuit. If the 14 eligible judges (13 active judges and the one senior-status judge who was assigned to the case) choose not to accept the rehearing — or on rehearing to keep the suspension — the fight would move to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the first challenge will be to get the highest court in the land to take the case. And that will be a long shot.

If further appeals are pursued, the biggest question becomes whether the suspension will be stayed. If it isn’t, the ultimate outcome in court won’t matter; he’ll miss the first four games of the 2016 regular season. If the suspension is stayed, Brady wouldn’t be suspended until the process has ended — and given the speed with which the justice system moves (or doesn’t), he could be retired by the time all appeals officially have been exhausted.

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NFL “pleased” appeals court ruled Goodell acted properly

2013 Carnegie Hall Medal Of Excellence Gala Getty Images

The NFL got a big win on Monday when their appeal of Judge Richard Berman’s decision to overturn Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension was successful.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s ruling focused on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s actions as arbitrator under the collective bargaining agreement. The court found that Goodell performed the role as laid out by the CBA, which the court called “unorthodox” while pointing out that “it is the regime bargained for and agreed upon by the parties, which we can only presume they determined was mutually satisfactory.”

As you’d expect, the ruling was met with approval from the league in a statement.

“We are pleased the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled today that the Commissioner properly exercised his authority under the collective bargaining agreement to act in cases involving the integrity of the game. That authority has been recognized by many courts and has been expressly incorporated into every collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFLPA for the past 40 years.”

In its announcement of the decision, the court concluded that “had the parties wished to restrict the Commissioner’s authority, they could have fashioned a different agreement.” That may be an issue for the NFLPA to include in future negotiations with the league, but the interpretation of the current CBA was kind to the arguments raised by the league on appeal.

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Second Circuit’s Chief Judge would have scrapped Brady appeal, based in part on stickum rules

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talks with referee Mike Carey (L) and Walt Coleman before taking on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

Yes, the NFL won the Tom Brady appeal. No, it wasn’t a slam dunk.

Judge Robert A. Katzmann, the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, strongly disagrees with the two judges who ruled in favor of the NFL. In a separate dissenting opinion, Judge Katzmann explains that, in his opinion, Commissioner Roger Goodell’s punishment of Brady exceeded the findings of the Ted Wells report.

“The Wells Report . . . concluded that it was ‘more probable than not that Tom Brady . . . was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of [Jim] McNally and [John] Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls’ . . . and that it was ‘unlikely’ that McNally and Jastremski deflated the balls without Brady’s ‘knowledge,’ ‘approval,’ ‘awareness,’ and ‘consent,'” Judge Katzmann writes. “The Commissioner’s final written decision, however, went further. It found that Brady ‘knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards in support of a scheme by which, with Mr. Jastremski’s support, Mr. McNally tampered with game balls.”

Judge Katzmann sees those differences as material: “The misconduct found in the Wells Report is indisputably less culpable than inducing and rewarding cheating through the payment of memorabilia, as was found in the Commissioner’s final decision.”

The dissenting opinion also points to the failure of the Commissioner to compare Brady’s alleged misconduct to the use of stickum, an equipment violation for which a first offense triggers a fine of $8,268.

“Given that both the use of stickum and the deflation of footballs involve attempts at improving one’s grip and evading the referees’ enforcement of the rules, this would seem a natural starting point for assessing Brady’s penalty,” Judge Katzmann writes. “Indeed, the League’s justification for prohibiting stickum — that it ‘affects the integrity of the competitive and can give a team an unfair advantage’ . . . — is nearly identical to the Commissioner’s explanation for what he found problematic about the deflation — that it ‘reflects an improper effort to secure a competitive advantage in, and threatens the integrity of, the game.’”

Judge Katzmann then ends the dissenting opinion with a message that will provide some (but not much_ solace to Patriots fans who will be unhappy with the luck of the draw that resulted in Katzmann not having a second judge on the three-judge panel who agreed with him: “It is ironic that a process designed to ensure fairness to all players has been unfairly used against one player.”

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Second Circuit slams door on Judge Berman scrapping Brady suspension again

Richard M. Berman AP

When Judge Richard Berman issued his ruling scuttling the Tom Brady suspension, Judge Berman refrained from addressing multiple other arguments supporting the potential reversal of the discipline imposed on Brady as a result of the #Deflategate situation. The move was viewed as an opportunity for Judge Berman to overturn the suspension a second time, if the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit disagreed with Judge Berman on the initial grounds for wiping out the suspension.

In reversing Judge Berman, however, the Second Circuit opted to rule on all open issues, blocking any further effort by Judge Berman to defeat the suspension.

“Although it is our usual practice to allow the the district court to address arguments in the first instance, we choose to address the [NFLPA’s] arguments here because they were fully briefed below and on appeal and because they are meritless,” the Second Circuit wrote at page 30 of the ruling.

The two open issues related to the argument that Commissioner Roger Goodell improperly delegated his authority to NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent to make the first decision regarding the imposition of discipline and the claim that Goodell was “evidently partial” in his role as arbitrator.

“Here, the parties contracted in the CBA to specifically allow the Commissioner to sit as the arbitrator,” the Second Circuit wrote at page 33. “They did so knowing full well that the Commissioner had the sole power of determining what constitutes ‘conduct detrimental,’ and thus knowing that the Commissioner would have a stake both in the underlying discipline and in every arbitration [falling within his jurisdiction]. Had the parties wished to restrict the Commissioner’s authority, they could have fashioned a different agreement.”

That’s a powerful statement, which underscores the breadth of the Commissioner’s authority and, in turn, gives the NFL the ability to push for a major concession at the bargaining table if/when the NFL Players Association decides to continue to push for third-party arbitration in all cases.

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NFL wins Deflategate appeal, Tom Brady suspension back on

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots removes his helmet while playing against the Houston Texans in the third quarter on December 13, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL has won the latest round in its Deflategate legal battle, and Tom Brady is once again suspended for the first four games of the season.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that the NFL does indeed have the authority to suspend Brady, overturning a lower court ruling and reinstating the four-game suspension that Brady was originally handed last year.

The league’s findings in the Deflategate investigation were that Brady was more probable than not to have ordered the Patriots’ equipment staff to deflate footballs below the minimum level of 12.5 psi. Brady has insisted that he did no such thing.

There have been so many twists and turns in the Deflategate saga that no one should assume it’s over, but at the moment the NFL has won and Brady has lost, and the Patriots appear set to start the season without their star quarterback.

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Sam Bradford tells Eagles he wants to be traded

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 15:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on while warming-up before the game against the Miami Dolphis at Lincoln Financial Field on November 15, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

Sam Bradford might not have been happy from the moment the Eagles traded for the second pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

But his playing along lasted less than a week.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Eagles quarterback has told the team he wants to be traded, and that he won’t be showing up to any more offseason activities.

Of course, the $17.5 million a year contract the Eagles gave him this offseason stuck out like a sore thumb the minute they traded for the right to draft Carson Wentz, considering they also paid trusted Doug Pederson-stable-pony Chase Daniel in free agency as well.

The Eagles have tied up a lot of cash and draft pick currency in the position this offseason because they wanted to make sure they had a franchise quarterback. It’s hard to imagine a situation where they thought Bradford was that guy, and the trade for No. 2 underscores that fact.

So now we have to see if the Eagles will blink, and whether quarterback-needy teams such as the Broncos or 49ers value Bradford beyond the guys they already have on their rosters.

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Report: NFL tells teams no positive drug tests at Scouting Combine

LONDON - SEPTEMBER 10: Signs highlighting the "No Smoking" areas in the pub All BarOne, on September 10 2004, north London. The chain of popular pubs and restaurants have announced that four fifths of its trading floor space would be non-smoking by 2009. A recent opinion poll revealed that most Britons would be in favour of partial or total smoking bans in the workplace, and a Public Health White Paper is due to be published this autumn. (Photo Illustration by Graeme Robertson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The war on drugs is clearly over, the battle won.

Either that, or incoming NFL players have gotten smarter about when to use and when not to.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the NFL has notified its 32 teams that no player tested positive at the Scouting Combine.

That’s rare, even though it shouldn’t be. The dates of the Combine are known well in advance, and players know they’re going to be tested when they get there. So failing a drug test there is as much of a sign of their accountability (and ability to follow directions) as anything to do with an illicit substance.

But this time, for a change, the lack of leaks seems to be there’s nothing to leak.

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Howie Roseman: Eagles have to have a franchise quarterback

Howie Roseman AP

Eagles Executive V.P. of Football Operations Howie Roseman says the decision to trade up to the No. 2 overall pick in the draft was all about a belief that the way to win in the NFL is to get a long-term franchise quarterback.

“You have to have a winning franchise quarterback to compete over a long period of time,” Roseman said this morning on PFT Live. “One impact player at that position can change a team.”

So will that quarterback be Cal’s Jared Goff or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz? Roseman said the Eagles will be happy with taking whichever quarterback the Rams don’t take first overall.

“You have to be comfortable with both guys at one and two,” Roseman said. “You don’t have that control when you’re picking second. We’re very comfortable with both quarterbacks, and that was the reason we were able to make this trade.”

Although Roseman said he discussed the trade with owner Jeffrey Lurie, coach Doug Pederson and others in the organization, ultimately it was Roseman alone who had to make the call.

“This decision was mine,” Roseman said. “At the end of the day, this was my decision.”

Roseman said the Eagles had previously identified 10 players they liked a lot and were worried none would still be there at No. 13, so they traded up to the Dolphins’ first-round pick at No. 8. At that point they saw the opportunity to move up to No. 2.

“There are unique opportunities where you have to take chances to be great,” Roseman said. “One great player can change a team.”

With the Rams appearing poised to draft Goff, Eagles fans have to hope that one great player is Wentz.

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Jalen Ramsey: I’m a playmaker, like Von Miller

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 28:  Jalen Ramsey #8 of the Florida State Seminoles attempts to tackle Treon Harris #3 of the Florida Gators during the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Getty Images

Is Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey a safety or a cornerback? He says it doesn’t matter. He’s just a guy who will make plays.

Ramsey, who could go as high as third overall in Thursday night’s NFL draft, told the Star-Telegram that he doesn’t have a preference for whether he plays safety or cornerback in the NFL.

“I can play where they need me to. I feel like I can work outside, in the slot or play deep. I have a lot to learn, have to study receivers, learn the defense I’m in, but I think if I put the work in, I’ll be able to move around if they need me to. But I’ll do whatever a team, or the coaches, want me to do,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey compared the impact he can have on defense to the reigning Super Bowl MVP.

“I’m a player who can do a lot of things for a team, can make plays, be a game-changer,” Ramsey said. “That’s what’s needed. Most people think just offensive players can make plays, change games, make big plays, but as we saw in the Super Bowl this year, Von Miller, he was the game-changer. He was the playmaker.”

That’s a good comparison. Ramsey may be the best playmaker in this draft.

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Blind quotes about quarterbacks turn up the usual racism

Playoff Championship Ohio St Oregon Football AP

More so than robins or marshmallow peeps or seersucker suits, there is one true harbinger of spring that lets you know the NFL Draft is at hand once again.

That’s right, anonymous scouts telling Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that some black quarterback reminds him of JaMarcus Russell.

It happens every year. Amid the voluminous research compiled by the veteran Packers beat man are the truly off-the-rails criticisms of players that have little to do with the playing of the game itself.

This year’s biggest victim appears to be Ohio State’s Cardale Jones (big results at big college program, check; “athletic,” check; happens to be black, oh yeah).

“Kind of reminds me of a poor man’s JaMarcus Russell,” said one of the fleet of unnamed scouts to McGinn. “At least JaMarcus had some touch. This guy just throws the ball. His mechanics are all over the place.”

But wait, there’s more.

“Strong arm. Big, big body. Not the brightest cookie in the world,” another of them said. “I worry about him when he gets money in his pocket. I just don’t know if it’s all there mentally.”

There’s also the obligatory mention that Jones was a “non-qualifier” out of high school and his Wonderlic score, which isn’t sufficiently low to be a red flag anyway.

That’s not to say Jones is a can’t miss-prospect. He was a third-stringer at Ohio State before injuries opened the door for him to lead them to a title, and he was eventually benched when the guys ahead of him got healthy. And he’s not a polished passer, which is why he’s been working on that aspect of his game all spring with quarterback guru George Whitfield.

At least when it comes to draft lunacy, there seems to be some equal opportunity this year. White guys get ripped too, from Jared Goff’s “slender build,” (and small hands) to Paxton Lynch being “a little spacy, a little different.”

Connor Cook is “Selfish. He goes out too much.” Christian Hackenberg “hangs out more with managers than he does teammates. It tells me he likes to be king of the little people rather than king of the big people.” Dak Prescott is “just a winner,” however, despite a pre-draft DUI arrest.

There’s plenty of good information in there, with McGinn there always is. But it has practically become a traditional April game of Draft Cliche Bingo, in which “casual racism,” is the free space.

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Josh Norman offered to sign Panthers tender, but was too late

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 01:  Josh Norman #24 of the Carolina Panthers addresses the media at Super Bowl Opening Night Fueled by Gatorade at SAP Center on February 1, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Josh Norman fired an agent after he was unable to get a deal with the Panthers for more than a year.

And if he’d have trusted his own counsel, he’d have taken a much smaller deal.

According to a blow-by-blow account of Norman’s signing in Washington by Mike Jones and Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post, Norman went back to the Panthers after firing agent Michael George and tried to sign the one-year, $13.95 million tender himself, only to find out he was too late.

Thus, with new representation Ryan Williams, he had to settle for a five-year, $75 million deal with $36.5 million (not $50 million) in guarantees.

The fact Norman was willing to crawl back to the Panthers after what had been a contentious process behind the scenes was telling.

Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman had a air of exasperation when he announced the move, saying it was obvious they were never going to agree on a long-term deal (especially not after Norman had declared himself one of the top five corners of all time and they responded with an $11 million a year offer).

But Norman apparently wasn’t lying all last season when he insisted he wanted to stay with the Panthers, not if he was willing to forego a chance at an open and lucrative market for one more ride with what amounted to his hometown team.

The story also suggests Panthers coaches were unaware of what was going on, and suspected there was more to Gettleman’s move than financial reasons. Coach Ron Rivera offered a tepid “I trust Dave,” last Thursday, but the news that he could have gone into this season without a gaping hole in his secondary has to be galling to a guy who helped develop Norman into one of the league’s top corners.

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