Josh Norman says he was “sideswiped” by the Panthers’ decision to rescind his franchise tag tender last week and that he was attracted to the Redskins because of the team's success last season.
“It came out of nowhere,” Norman said on CSN’s Redskins Nation shortly after signing his new contract Friday in Ashburn, Va. “It really did. I got sideswiped; I didn’t see it coming. And for my old teammates that I had, man, oh my gosh, I’m going to miss them dearly.”
Norman enjoyed a career year for the Super Bowl runners up in 2015, posting highs in passes defended (18), interceptions (4) and forced fumbles (3). He also returned two picks for touchdowns en route to Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.
The Panthers, however, informed him Wednesday that they were rescinding the $14 million franchise tag because the team did not believe a long term deal was in reach. The move immediately made Norman a free agent, long after many teams had completed their shopping.
The Redskins—Bruce Allen, in particular—acted swiftly.
“When that happened, it was crazy because Mr. Bruce, the [Team] President, hit me up right away with a jersey, No. 24,” Norman said. “The crazy thing is, I didn’t see it until a day-and-a-half later because I was still getting over the fact of what was going on. Being somewhere 28 years all your life and just in a blink of an eye, gone, just like that. I’ve never been without a job. [From there] everything went rapid and I came up here and it just felt right.”
Indeed, Norman didn’t remain unemployed for long. The Redskins sent owner Dan Snyder’s private jet to Atlanta—his hometown in the offseason—to pick up Norman and bring the fifth-year player to Ashburn along with his mother, agent and financial advisors. Within a few hours, a five-year, $75 million contract that guaranteed $36.5 million at signing had been stuck.
Although Norman had other suitors, the 2012 fifth round pick says he chose the Redskins because he believes the team is on the upswing. He also noted Washington’s feistiness in a 44-16 loss to the then undefeated Panthers in Charlotte last November. That game was tied 14-14 in the second quarter.
“I would say what attracted me the most was that it still was a competitive team,” Norman said. “When we played you guys last year, y’all was competing all the way until the bitter end. It was no let-up. You guys had the fight in you all. You’re a playoff team. You was in the thick of things. And one piece here, one piece there, you guys can do what Carolina [did] when they went to the Super Bowl last year.”
He added: “I’m looking forward to getting back to the playoffs, here. You guys went last year, I’m looking forward to going even deeper into the playoffs and then the Super Bowl. That’s our motto, that’s the goal. That’s the ultimate goal. Yeah, you get to playoffs, you get deep into the rounds, the divisional and then the championship. I want to win the granddaddy of them all. I want to win the Super Bowl. And I’m not going to stop until I get back there. Because I know I will one day and then make the wrong a right.”
Norman instantly becomes the Redskins’ best player on defense. He also figures to shore up a secondary that allowed a combined 65 passing touchdowns the past two seasons.