Some will say that the Panthers wronged cornerback Josh Norman by not rescinding the franchise tag sooner. But it’s safe to assume that the Panthers used the tag with the intent of trying to work out a fair, long-term deal, and with a willingness to honor the $13.95 million salary if the player had accepted a deal that would have become fully guaranteed the moment Josh Norman applied his John Hancock to the contract.
Unless the Panthers rescinded the tender because they feared Norman would soon be signing it, the Panthers did the right thing by Norman by removing the tender now. They’ve made the move at a time that gives Norman a full and fair chance to find a new team before that team fills its needs at the position in the draft. And the move actually makes it harder for the Panthers to replace Norman through the draft, because now it’s clear that they have a need at the position.
Indeed, the better move for the Panthers strategically would have been to draft Norman’s replacement next week and then remove the tender.
It’s unclear whether Norman will end up with a new team before the draft. Plenty of teams will surely be interested, starting Carolina’s own division. The key questions are whether a given team has the cap space to make it happen, and the cash in the budget necessary to do the deal.
Regardless, Norman has more options now than he would have had if available after the draft. While it would have been better if he’d been available at the outset of free agency, this is a much better outcome than having the Panthers strip the franchise tender in June or July.