In a surprising move, the Carolina Panthers decided to rescind the non-exclusive franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman on Wednesday.

Carolina Panthers Rescind Josh Norman’s Franchise Tag

As a result, Norman, 28, will now immediately become an unrestricted free agent.

“After a number of conversations with Josh’s agent we realized that a long-term deal was not attainable,” Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said in a statement. “We have decided to rescind the franchise tag freeing Josh to immediately become a UFA. We thank Josh for all his contributions and truly wish him well.”

The decision came as a total shock, even for Norman and his representatives. The cornerback was not in a talking mood shortly after the decision was announced. The move is also shocking considering Gettleman’s remarks during the offseason that he didn’t believe in drafting and developing players “for other teams.”


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“Man, I just don’t feel like talking about it right now,” Norman told the Associated Press.

The Panthers likely won’t find Norman’s replacement in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft, which will take place April 28-30. The top two corners — Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey and Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III — are almost guaranteed to be gone by the 30th pick.

However, a source with knowledge of the situation told NFL Media Insider’s Ian Rapoport that teams started contacting Norman within an hour of the Panthers’ announcement.

Norman had a great season in 2015, his first All-Pro season, compiling four interceptions and 19 passes defensed. Norman also allowed a 60.9 passer rating in coverage, the 15th-lowest rating allowed among qualifying cornerbacks last season.

Before the Norman decision, the top need for the Panthers was defensive end. The team is in need of a long-term replacement for Charles Johnson, who signed a one-year deal to return during free agency.

However, there has also been speculation that Carolina may select a defensive tackle, safety, offensive tackle, running back or even a tight end.

If the Panthers draft a tight end in the first round, it will be the first time in franchise history the team has done so.

The team held its pre-draft press conference Thursday at 11 am ET. It aired live on the NFL Network.

Of the 25 players Carolina has shown interest in, there are three cornerbacks, one defensive tackle, three defensive ends, three tight ends, five safety/linebackers, five wide receivers, four offensive tackles and one running back.

Here’s a list of the 25 players that reportedly have visited or will visit the Panthers heading into the draft to at least give you an idea of what Gettleman is considering:

Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State

Moritz Boehringer, WR, German Football League

Kevin Byard, S, Middle Tennessee State

Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn

Su’a Cravens, LB/S, Southern California

Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson

Keyarris Garrett, WR, Tulsa

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M

Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama

Miles Killebrew, S/LB, Southern Utah

Joe Haeg, OT, North Dakota State

Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

Harlan Miller, CB, SE Louisiana

Michael Miller, TE, Taylor University

Chris Moore, WR, Cincinnati

Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma

Beau Sandland, TE, Montana State

Brandon Shell, OT, South Carolina

Darian Thompson, S, Boise State

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State

SANTA CLARA, CA – FEBRUARY 07: Josh Norman #24 of the Carolina Panthers looks on during Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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