One of the bigger storylines in NFL Week 15 is the showdown between Josh Norman’s Washington Redskins and his former team, the Carolina Panthers.
Norman and Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman didn’t see eye to eye last spring when they disagreed about his worth. As a result, the team rescinded his franchise tag, making him a free agent.
Washington happily paid him well, doling out a five-year deal worth $75 million, with $50 million guaranteed. Thus far, Norman has made the team happy about its investment. He’s played very well, tallying 50 tackles and an interception while more often than not shutting down the opposition’s best receiver.
On the flip side, the Panthers have one of the league’s worst pass defenses without Norman, despite the fact that they lead the lead in sacks (39). He’s clearly been missed.
When asked about losing his star cornerback heading into Monday night’s showdown in Washington, Carolina head coach Ron Rivera refused to discuss the matter. He said the upcoming matchup will “be fun, or I think it will be fun,” per Black and Blue Review.
But he refused to comment about the entire franchise tag situation.
“I think that’s a question for Dave (Gettleman), guys. I’m not going to talk about what we do and the reason we do things. That’s a question for Dave.”
Rivera also refused to divulge whether Norman pleaded with him about staying on with Carolina.
“I’m not going to get into that part of it.”
Clearly, Rivera is a pro’s pro. He’s right to not give the media something juicy that could be used to cause a rift between himself and Gettleman. That said, it’s not hard to wonder if Rivera, and perhaps even Gettleman, wishes things had gone down a bit differently.
Norman isn’t the only reason the Panthers haven’t been able to stop the pass this year, but he was a huge part of the team’s success last year. His ability to cover teams’ best receivers with little or no safety help over the top allowed Carolina to roll coverage to the rest of the field, which makes a massive difference in scheme.
The Redskins feature some talented receivers and a terrific deep-ball passer in Kirk Cousins. It’s going to be interesting to see if the Panthers can stay close at all come Monday night when the two teams clash in national television. We’re leaning towards Norman having a big day against Cam Newton and the rest of his former teammates while Washington rolls at home.