Josh Norman’s days were already numbered before the highly-publicized events on Monday night. Norman’s shenanigans led to him being benched at halftime by Redskins head coach Jay Gruden after reportedly wearing headphones while the coaching staff addressed the team. At the time, the Redskins trailed 26-13 to the New Orleans Saints, in large due to multiple miscues by the secondary as Drew Brees picked apart the defense.
Norman was involved in multiple huge plays like a mix-up between him and safety D.J. Swearinger in coverage that led to a 62-yard touchdown reception for a wide open Tre’Quan Smith. Or when Norman got baited by the roll up of Brees that left tight end Josh Hill wide open for a one-yard touchdown. And let’s not lose sight of the back-and-forth tussle with Saints receiver Michael Thomas that led to a few heated exchanges, and a costly defensive holding penalty on Norman on what should have been a third down stop, that ultimately led to a Saints touchdown.
During the same report by Kevin Sheehan about Norman getting benched at halftime due to headphones, was the mention that the Redskins coaching staff has become irritated by the team’s highest-paid defensive player.
Norman has not been as bad as some fans insist, and they are insisting quite heavily on social media. But, he clearly has not been his old self, the one that made him arguably the best shut down corner in 2015 and led to the Redskins signing him to a five-year, $75 million deal in 2016 after the Carolina Panthers rescinded their franchise tag on the talented cornerback.
Outspoken and a bit of a showman, Norman could be in jeopardy of wearing out his welcome in Washington. His hefty contract may be too expensive for the Redskins’ liking, especially for a cornerback that has only three interceptions in 36 games, two of which coming in one game, and none since Week 16 of 2016.
Norman will be owed $24 million over the course of the next two seasons in 2019 and 2020 — which would account to $30 million against the salary cap, according to Spotrac. However, the Redskins could get out of the contract and save a huge amount towards the salary cap starting 2019 if they part ways with Norman at the end of this season.
The Redskins will save $8.5 million in cap space in 2019 if Norman is released. That number grows to a whopping $12.5 million in 2020. Doing the math, that’s $21 million of salary cap Washington can free up cutting ties with No. 24.
It’s a move Washington may have been preparing towards for quite some time. Remember they drafted Kendall Fuller in the second round in 2016 and then Fabian Moreau and Joshua Hosley in 2017. They then added Greg Stroman in the seventh-round and Adonis Alexander in the supplemental draft this year. While Moreau has proved the Redskins wise in acquiring by replacing the traded Fuller as the team’s No. 1 slot corner, it’s a long shot that Stroman, Hosley or Alexander would be ready to fill the shoes of Norman by next season.
Even so, there’s always the 2019 NFL Draft or free agency. They can use some of the extra money saved by cutting Norman on a free agent, maybe?
Recently, former Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall called out Norman basically saying Norman has been more focus on his celebrity and brand than playing football. It’s not farfetched that Hall, who played over the course of 10 seasons with the Redskins, would echo some sentiments of people within the organization — remember Hall was reportedly offered a front office job with the team after he announced his retirement earlier this year.
Nonetheless, unless Norman proves to be worth the headache or whatever transgressions he presents, releasing the veteran may be beneficial to the Redskins.