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NFL AM: Mr. Norman Goes To Washington

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It didn’t take long for Josh Norman to get exactly what he wanted: a boatload of money and an opportunity to win.

Less than 48 hours after his franchise tag was shockingly rescinded by the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers, the All-Pro cornerback found a new home in the nation’s capital, signing a five-year deal worth a reported $70 million with the Washington Redskins on Friday night. The deal is reported to contain more than $50 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder and it’s average annual value of $15 million makes Norman the highest paid corner in the league.

Though the initial thinking was that the timing of Carolina’s decision might keep Norman from getting that kind of money, it took only one visit to one team to land the contract he’d always been seeking. Up to 10 other teams had interest in Norman, including the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers, but both bowed out when the numbers escalated. Mid-day reports on Friday indicated Norman, who spent the day in D.C. visiting with the Redskins, was deciding between Washington and the New Orleans Saints. Ultimately, he never made it to New Orleans as the Redskins gave him a final offer he couldn’t leave on the table.

“When [the franchise tag was rescinded] it was crazy because Mr. Bruce (Allen), the President, hit [me] up right away with a jersey, No. 24,” Norman told Redskins.com. “And 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 just never been without a job … That small amount of hours, everything went rapid and I came up here and it just felt right.”

It’s a great move for Norman, who cashes in and should still be able to have success with a Washington squad that made the postseason last year and is in position to do so again. The Redskins ranked in the bottom third of the league last season in both total defense and pass defense, but they have a lot of key pieces in place and Norman’s arrival gives them considerable depth on the backend. He’ll like tandem with the emerging Bashaud Breeland on the outside at the corner position. The team still has some question marks at safety them may address through the draft, but they also have a front seven that should both make it easier on the secondary and benefit from Norman’s arrival therein.

As for the Redskins, after a couple of offseasons of frugal spending and development, this move has Daniel Snyder’s fingerprints all over it. But that might not honestly be the worst thing in this case. Because of the efforts of Scot McCloughan over the last 15 months or so, the Redskins are in a better position than they’ve been in a long time in terms of having a solid core group of players. Complementing that group with a top tier talent at a premium position is a power move for the defending NFC Eastern Division Champions. And with the window always at least half open for every team in that particular division, it’s the right move at the right time, something that hasn’t been associated with the Redskins in quite a while.

“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; it 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. And when I came here and I said that (about) that one missing piece, who knows, but I guarantee I’m going to give everything I am, everything I’ve got, because that’s how I get it.”

 

There’s no doubt in this case the money is large, perhaps a tad overboard, but in the new NFL world with revenue pouring in and the salary cap seemingly ballooning annually, it’s not the worst time or place to spend. Where the Redskins got in trouble spending their money in the past was paying top shelf prices for second tier talent or name players past their prime. In Norman, they have a player easily among the top five in the league at his position, firmly in his prime, coming off the best season of his career with room to grow. Sure Norman is 28, but he was clearly a late bloomer entering the league just four years ago, so predicting him to fall off at 30 is no sure thing. And he’s coming off not one good season, but an excellent 2015 campaign that followed a breakout 2014.

Norman will certainly be tested early and often to meet that high standard in 2016. In the NFC East he’ll be matched up with two of the league’s best receivers twice a year: Dallas’ Dez Bryant and his already bitter rival, New York Giants wideout Odell Beckham Jr. Additionally, the Redskins open the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers and another of the league’s best, Antonio Brown. A matchup with Bryant will follow in Week 2 and Beckham comes calling in Week 3, giving the All-Pro an early chance to make a statement with his new team. But Norman is already making statements loud and clear about his intent upon his arrival in Washington.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to the playoffs here,” Norman said. “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 here, 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.”

TEXANS COULD HAVE HAD A DRAFT PICK FOR HOYER?

When the Houston Texans signed Brock Osweiler on the opening day of free agency, it was a clear sign that quarterback Brian Hoyer’s tenure in Houston was was to be short-lived. A little over a month later, the Texans released Hoyer, freeing him to pursue another job elsewhere.

But why did it take so long to make that decision? General manager Rick Smith said on Friday that the team was actively shopping Hoyer in a trade, which should come as no surprise, what does come as a shock is the avenue Houston took instead, as Smith revealed to the Houston Chronicle:

“I think I probably could have gotten a pick, honestly,” Texans general manager Rick Smith said. “In fairness to him, we just thought, and this was an organizational decision, we have multiple conversations about it. While there might have been some value there for us organizationally, it just felt like it was the right time to do it. Not just for him, but for us as well. It was the right time for us organizationally and so we made the move.”

Wait, what?

You could have gotten a draft pick for Brian Hoyer and didn’t, because of some bizarre sense of loyalty to a player who was on the team for a year and was yanked around the entire time? That’s some kind of logic. And why are you telling us this, flat out admitting that you could have done your job better but chose not to?

This is one of the most bizarre things we’ve heard expressed in the media in quite some time. It’s one thing to do something like this behind closed doors, expressing to Hoyer that you might have been able to get something for him, but you wanted to do right by him and let him pick his next spot. That’s all fine and well. It keeps an open relationship with the player and more importantly with his agent. But don’t talk about that to the media! Don’t express it to your fans!  No good can come from making this public knowledge.

Most people don’t understand, nor care about the importance of relationships in the league and doing people favors that they might some day return. And they don’t have to. All they know now is the Texans could have had an extra draft pick and don’t, and that’s on you.

And it’s not like the Texans were looking at getting a second rounder for Brian Hoyer. Four days later, the guy is still sitting on the open market. But maybe a sixth or seventh rounder? That’s a lottery ticket, to say the least, but it’s a free lottery ticket. Take it. What’s better, a free lottery ticket or no lottery ticket at all?

Houston clearly prefers no lottery ticket at all and Rick Smith wants you all to know that.

CHIEFS BELIEVE JUSTIN HOUSTON WILL PLAY IN 2016

When the Chiefs learned in February that linebacker Justin Houston had to have his ACL repaired after a mostly lost season in 2015 due to knee issues, it was a gut punch to a franchise on the rise. But after a few months of rehab for Houston, Kansas City is now more optimistic that their best pass rusher will be back at some point in 2016.

“I’m not a medical expert, but I can tell you Justin Houston will be playing this season,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said on Friday. “When is a good [question]. Not being a medical expert, I really can’t definitively tell you that answer. But our doctors have reassured us that he will play this season.”

Houston had been dealing with knee issues since the end of Novemeber, when he suffered an injury against the Bills and missed the rest of the regular season. He returned in time for the postseason but was clearly still hampered by the injury and when Kansas City was ousted, he scheduled arthroscopic surgery to repair the damage. It was only then that the extend of damage to his ACL discovered, forcing a full repair that was expected to sideline him for 6-12 months.

Despite missing five games last season due to injury, Houston still finished as the team’s leading sack man at 7.5, so Kansas City will need to have some players step up in his stead. Any return in 2016 would put the linebacker at the shallow side of that recovery timetable.

“He’s ahead of schedule,” Dorsey said. “He’s doing great. He’s dialed in. He’s excited. When you hear from him, you see he’s going to be Justin Houston when he gets back here. At the end of the day that guy, No. 50, he’ll be here.”

That would be a big boon for the Chiefs, who have to sense an opening in the AFC West for the first time in quite some time. Getting Houston back for the playoff chase, which he missed last year, would be an extremely valuable addition.

 


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys