The San Francisco 49ers are among the first teams to dip their toe in the water with Josh Norman. Carolina Panthers beat writer Joseph Person is reporting the 49ers joined the Buccaneers, Steelers, and Dolphins in contacting Norman's agent.
The All-Pro cornerback became an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday when the Panthers rescinded the franchise tag. Norman had not signed his tender yet, so the team could release him and not owe him any of the franchise tag money. It was an odd decision, as it rarely happens. The reports out of Carolina suggest the team did not want to deal with a potential holdout, but Norman has also indicated he would not hold out. It is hard to tell what exactly is going on in a very unusual situation.
The 49ers are among the league leaders in cap space, with only the Jacksonville Jaguars at their level of space. Of the teams listed above, the Steelers have the least space, down around $3 million. Virtually any team could figure out a way to make a Norman deal fit under the cap. It is a matter of sacrificing for the future.
The upside for the 49ers is they could front-load his deal given all their 2016 space. Of course, Norman will turn 29 this year, which means he is fast approaching that magical "30" mark. There is a good chance this is the last huge contract he signs. I just don't see the 49ers giving up that kind of huge deal, unless they can keep it down around four years. I could live with a three- or four-year deal. It doesn't cripple the cap long-term, and it protects the team in case Norman does not do a good job building on his breakout 2015 season.