No, Josh Norman didn’t get $50 million fully guaranteed at signing. But he ended up with a great deal, especially in light of his late entry to the market.
Per a source with knowledge of the deal, Norman will receive a $15 million signing bonus along with $36.5 million fully guaranteed, earned over the first two years. While that’s not $50 million (duh), it’s a great payout for a deal signed on April 22.
The first three years are strong as well. Norman will make $20 million through the first year, $37 million (if he earns a $500,000 46-man roster bonus in 2017, as he likely will) through 2017, and $51 million through 2018.
That’s more than Norman would have gotten under two years of the franchise tag in Carolina, where his $13.95 million tender in 2016 would have become $16.74 million in 2017, for a total of $30.69 million over two seasons.
If Washington chooses not to keep Norman through three years at $51 million (an average of $17 million per year), he’ll exit with $18.5 million per year over two. (They’ll have to make a decision early in his third year; the balance of his injury-only guarantee becomes fully-guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2018 league year.)
With the deal paying out $51 million over the first three years, the likelihood of Washington keeping Norman over the full five years increases, since he makes $11.5 million in 2019 and $12.5 million in 2020, numbers that will be well below the market for high-end cornerbacks by the end of the decade.
Factoring in the notion that Norman turns 29 in December and the sudden criticisms that emerged this week that he’s suited only for a zone system and isn’t a dominant man-to-man cover corner, Norman cleaned up — especially since he landed on the market after the big money had flowed.
From Washington’s perspective, the deal will conjure memories of Albert Haynesworth, who signed a mammoth deal in 2009 and ended up being a colossal bust. If history has repeated itself, Norman’s $15 million signing bonus would allow a parting of the ways with a cap charge as low as $3 million in 2018, which would be followed by $6 million in 2019 dead money.