The diminishing appeal of a one-year rental of cornerback Josh Norman was a key factor in the Carolina Panthers rescinding his franchise tag tender, Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said Thursday.
In an opening statement read by Gettleman at a previously scheduled news conference, he repeated what has been his mantra in building an NFL roster.
“I don’t subscribe to the window theory – we’ve got a window, we’ve got to win now,” Gettleman said. “I don’t subscribe to the ‘we’re only one player away’ theory because in my mind football is the truest of all team games.”
Wednesday, that philosophy cost Norman $13.95 million in guaranteed money under a franchise tag contract offer he never signed. The Panthers rescinded that offer Wednesday afternoon, making Norman an unrestricted free agent immediately.
Internal conversations led team officials to think using Norman as a one-year rental playing on the franchise tag, when a long-term deal looked at best unlikely, was not the way to go. The Panthers also are likely to receive a compensatory draft pick in 2017 because of Norman’s departure.
Gettleman said consideration was also given to the Panthers’ locker room culture from 2015, which he called “terrific.”
“We want people who are all in,” Gettleman said. “The conversations were that the one-year deal was becoming less and less attractive.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who has seen the franchise’s leading receiver (Steve Smith) and leading rusher (DeAngelo Williams) depart in the past two offseasons, said losing Norman will be tough.
“We’ve made some tough decisions before ... and quite honestly I’m going to trust (Gettleman) on this, too,” Rivera said.
While replacing Norman, who had the lowest completion percentage against of any NFL cornerback in 2015 according to Pro Football Focus, won’t be easy, it also doesn’t have to be done quickly, Rivera said.
“You might say Dave’s cavalier about this and yada, yada, yada. But bottom line we don’t play until Sept. 8,” Rivera said.
Gettleman also said that the prospect of a lengthy holdout by Norman didn’t impact the decision.
Gettleman said at February’s NFL scouting combine that he didn’t want to be in the business of developing players and then watching them walk away, and discussed that again on Thursday.
“I struggle with our coaches developing players and letting them walk,” he said. “ ... You have to understand you can’t keep everybody. It’s impossible.
“We’d all like to have our cake and eat it too. We’d all like to, but we can’t.”
While Gettleman didn’t rule out the possibility Norman’s return, Wednesday’s move gave the Panthers an extra $14 million in salary cap room. Gettleman was asked what he can do with that space.
“A lot,” he said.