The Carolina Panthers made a surprising move on Wednesday, rescinding the franchise tag they had placed on All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman. The 28-year-old, who finished fourth in the Defensive Player of the Year voting, is now an unrestricted free agent.
And while the Bears have completely overhauled their defense in free agency, and still have nine draft choices in the upcoming draft, could going after Norman put them over the top and help them contend for a playoff spot in 2016?
Even after signing linebackers Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman and defensive lineman Akiem Nicks, the Bears still have $22 million in cap space. That's more than enough to get a deal done with Norman.
The Bears resigned cornerback Tracy Porter in the offseason but depth at the position is still a need, with Kyle Fuller entering his third pro season an unproven member of the secondary.
Would the addition of Norman make the Bears the favorites in the NFC North? Probably not. But it would go a long way toward getting them back to the postseason for the first time since 2011.
Norman was a terror in 2015, finishing with four interceptions, three foced fumbles and 56 tackles. He and linebacker Luke Kuechly formed the league's top-ranked defense, which ultimately fell to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.