The Washington Redskins had been expected to address a pressing need in the secondary this month, but it could come by way of free agency and not next week’s draft. They have expressed serious interest in cornerback Josh Norman, who will visit the team on Friday. It’s Norman’s first scheduled visit since the Carolina Panthers rescinded the franchise tag on Wednesday to make him an unrestricted free agent.
According to two people close to the situation, Norman fired his agent, Michael George, on Wednesday and moved on with Ryan Williams. The paperwork for Williams has been filed with the NFL Players Association as of Thursday night but George’s termination has not, likely for logistical reasons. The removal of George would force Norman to wait five days before proceeding in talks with a new agent, but Norman is able to sign a deal immediately at this point as long as Williams and George are technically viewed as co-representing Norman. It would be ideal for Norman to sign a deal before the NFL draft on Thursday, and the Redskins appear to have the first crack at signing him.
The move to allow one of the best cornerbacks in the league to walk away six weeks into free agency caught many around the league, including Norman and people within the Panthers organization, off guard. The Redskins could certainly use Norman as they look to add depth at both cornerback and safety. The addition would give the team some flexibility in the secondary with the injuries to Chris Culliver (torn ligaments in his left knee) and Kyshoen Jarrett (nerve issue in his right shoulder) and roll with Norman and Bashaud Breeland as its starting cornerbacks.
While Norman is a cornerback, Washington could receive some added depth at safety as well with the move. Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said at the NFL’s annual meetings last month that the team will experiment with cornerbacks Will Blackmon and Deshazor Everett at safety during the offseason. Washington would be better suited to allow one, or both, of those players to make that transition permanently if they add Norman.
It would also change how the Redskins approach the NFL draft on Thursday with the 21st overall pick. It would almost eliminate the possibility of drafting a cornerback, like Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander, in the first round and allow them to look for help along the defensive line, at safety or trade out of the first round to acquire more picks for general manager Scot McCloughan.
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