In the clubhouse at Ballantyne Country Club on Monday afternoon, Washington cornerback Josh Norman talked and joked with several of his former teammates from the Carolina Panthers’ secondary.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera, watching the exchange from the other side of the room, said: “Those are (Norman’s) guys.”
It’s been a month since Norman signed a five-year, $75 million deal with Washington two days after the Panthers rescinded Norman’s franchise tag, making him a free agent.
Norman is still getting adjusted to his new team and surroundings – he’s scheduled to look at an 18-acre farmhouse in northern Virginia sometime soon.
And while he’s excited about trying to build a winner in Washington, he says he’s not going to turn his back on the friendships he made in Charlotte. On Monday that meant turning down a request to play in a teammate’s charity golf event in Washington to attend Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert’s golf fundraiser.
Norman showed up late. But he showed up.
“Think about it, it’s been (five) weeks. Guys I’m there with in Washington, I’m loving up on them and getting to know them. Shoot, we’re all cool. We jelled already,” Norman said. “It’s like they’re my brothers and the brothers here are kind of like stepbrothers. Everybody’s the same in a way. Everybody wants to do good for one another.”
Norman has taken a few public shots at Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman since Carolina cut ties with him. He was diplomatic Monday, saying: “I don’t have issues with nobody. What happened happened.”
Norman, who unsuccessfully tried to sign his tag with the Panthers when he learned they were rescinding it, says the last month has been surreal.
“I’m still going through it. It’s a process. I don’t think you rush into anything and expect it to happen overnight. It takes time,” he said. “Once everything slows down I think I’ll look back over it all and be like, ‘Oh, OK. So that happened. And I was able to overcome some obstacles.’ But you’ve got to play the cards you’re dealt.”
Tolbert and Norman both went to Coastal Carolina before making it to the NFL. Tolbert said Norman’s sudden departure was “shocking,” but he was happy Norman was able to land a lucrative deal with Washington.
Norman wasn’t planning on staying in Charlotte long. He was headed back to Washington on Monday night to re-join his new team and “brothers” for OTAs this week.
“I’m up there to be part of a team that’s growing and becoming successful. I can’t ask for nothing better than that,” he said. “I want to make them guys a winner just like we did here in Carolina.”