Inside the Panthers

Carolina Panthers open negotiations with free agent CB Josh Norman

The Carolina Panthers opened negotiations with free agent cornerback Josh Norman on Thursday night, but talks are expected to go through and possibly past the March 1 deadline for franchise tags to be applied.
The Carolina Panthers opened negotiations with free agent cornerback Josh Norman on Thursday night, but talks are expected to go through and possibly past the March 1 deadline for franchise tags to be applied. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

The Carolina Panthers opened negotiations with free agent cornerback Josh Norman on Thursday night, a process that will continue in the days leading to and possibly past next week’s franchise tag deadline.

Panthers officials sat down Thursday with Norman’s agent, Mike George, at the NFL Scouting Combine, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Norman, 28, is coming off his first All-Pro season and wants to be paid among the highest-paid corners in the league with an average salary of at least $14 million per year. The two sides negotiated prior to the 2015 season but were not able to reach an agreement.

Teams have until 4 p.m. Tuesday to apply a franchise tag on a player, locking him in for one season at the average of the top five salaries at his position. The tag for corners is expected to be about $13.7 million, based on the NFL’s projected salary cap.

Norman, a fifth-round pick from Coastal Carolina in 2012, had four interceptions last season, including two he returned for touchdowns. He led all cornerbacks with a 54.0 passer rating against, according to Pro Football Focus.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said this week he was “pretty optimistic” about the team’s chances of getting Norman signed to a long-term deal. The two sides can continue negotiating if the Panthers tag Norman.

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