The Carolina Panthers made a head-scratching decision this offseason to let Josh Norman become a free agent by removing the franchise tag designation.
The franchise and the player couldn’t come to any sort of accord about how much he was worth during contract negotiations, so he was just cut loose.
In the immortal words of George Oscar Bluth, the Panthers “made a huge mistake.”
Norman has been a dynamo for the Washington Redskins. His stellar play this year proves beyond a shadow of doubt that his 2015 campaign was no aberration.
Meanwhile, Carolina features a pass defense that gives up more yards per pass play than any other team in the NFL, and only six teams have allowed more passing touchdowns.
Still searching for answers, the Panthers activated Leonard Johnson this week while putting Teddy Williams on injured reserve.
Now here’s the kicker.
“The moves were the 18th and 19th transactions involving cornerbacks since general manager Dave Gettleman pulled the franchise tag from Norman on April 20, freeing one of the league’s top cornerbacks to sign with Washington the same week,” writes Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.
Is Norman’s absence the only reason Carolina can’t defend against the pass this year? No. The pass rush hasn’t been there, and the entire back end is playing undisciplined football.
But there’s no doubt the Panthers, now 1-5, are reeling without the cover corner taking on the best opposing receiver from week to week. Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, this is now a team in danger of finishing in last place in one of the NFL’s less competitive divisions.