BY Art Thiel 06:56PM 04/21/2016

Thiel: Norman’s stand evokes Kam’s mistake

Panthers stunned the NFL when they rescinded the franchise tag on star CB Josh Norman over stalled contract talks. Seahawks know a little about unexpected turns over money.

Pete Carroll was happy to make nice with Kam Chancellor after his two-game holdout ended last season. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

Just when a fan of an NFL championship-caliber team can relax — boom.

The surprising news this week that the game’s best cornerback, Josh Norman, was allowed to walk away from NFC champion Carolina, was another slap upside the head for fans naive enough to think that big success and big money should be enough to keep a star in the shop.

Panthers GM Dave Gettleman earlier in the off-season assigned pending free agent Norman the franchise tag, which would have paid Norman $14 million for the single season of 2016.

“When we decided to place the franchise tag on Josh, we were fine with him signing it and then working on a long-term deal,” Gettleman said at a press conference. “As we got deeper into conversations, we realized it was a significant difference between our thoughts and theirs.”

The Panthers’ long-term deal reportedly included an offer that was around $11 million in the first year, while Norman, 28, believed he was in line for Darrell Revis/Richard Sherman money at $15 million-plus.

Apparently Norman said, “Hell, no,” loud enough and long enough that Gettleman Wednesday made the unusual move of rescinding the tag, enabled because Norman had failed to sign it. The Panthers said goodbye to one of the anchors of a team that twice beat the Seahawks last season before falling to Denver in Super Bowl 50.

While Seahawks fans may be chortling at the serious blow to the top NFC foe, it was only last summer that the Seahawks were whacked by a similar blindside hit — the holdout of SS Kam Chancellor.

The stunning decision was one of the rare moments that caught Seahawks bosses Pete Carroll and John Schneider completely off-guard. They do a good job of coming up with Plan B when Plan A doesn’t work, the most recent example being when the offensive line that began last season was so over-matched that the coaches made changes at mid-season, turning the offense into one of the most efficient by season’s end.

But Chancellor’s decision was first known in July, late in the NFL calendar for major personnel changes. The fallback position was SS Dion Bailey, an undrafted free agent out of USC totally unprepared to start in the NFL.

In the Seahawks’ season-opening 34-31 overtime loss at St. Louis, the tying touchdown pass came over the head of Bailey, who fell down. He was out of the league as soon as Chancellor, without any evidence of an upgraded contract, returned for week 3.

The circumstances in Chancellor’s case were different than Norman’s, because Chancellor was under contract, which he wanted improved — one year into a four-year deal.

Per club policy — and the custom of every other team — the Seahawks don’t rework deals so early, for the entirely practical reason that it would open them to renegotiate with any player who may have outperformed his contract. It makes for chaos under the salary cap.

Norman was going to be a free agent until Carolina deployed the franchise tag, which Gettleman subsequently voided. Since the maneuver happened ahead of the draft, the Panthers have some hope of partial recovery.

Rescinding is a rare move — in fact, the last team to do it was the Seahawks in 2009, with LB Leroy Hill. He was signed a few days later by Seattle. But the much-higher-profile Norman is unlikely to return to Carolina, because it sounded as if Gettleman was far more attracted to a sudden $14 million in cap space.

“The more we thought about it, the more flexibility that $14 million would give us . . .  we just kept talking and talking,” he said. “I have a great belief that in order to get the right answer, you have to ask the right questions. We kept asking ourselves that question, and this is why we made the decision we made.”

Even with $14 million and the pending draft, the Panthers aren’t likely to come close to Norman’s equivalent for a secondary that was the weakest link in Carolina’s otherwise formidable defense, which shut out the Seahawks in the first half of the playoff matchup in January. The Panthers are in scramble mode.

So were the Seahawks in September. Coaches hate that, especially when it’s for non-injury reasons. Which may explain a bit about why the Seahawks reached into their past recently to re-sign two free agents from their Super Bowl-winning team: DE Chris Clemons, 34, and CB Brandon Browner, 32.

Carroll is big on playing and starting young players, figuring that after 16 regular-season games, nobody is a rookie anymore. But he makes some exceptions for crafty old guys who know the system and can handle emergency duties. The Dion Bailey experience may have informed him heavily.

Just in case DE Michael Bennett gets agitated again about his contract, as he did a year ago, or Chancellor decides for whatever reason to go over the falls again, Carroll doesn’t want to go as naked into a game as he did to start the season last year.

If fans thought it was cold for the Seahawks’ playoff game in Minnesota, well, Carroll knew worse last season in St. Louis in September.



  • 1coolguy

    Good for Carolina. Players taking the team hostage doesn’t speak well for them.
    I’m fine with players getting paid but to a point and Norman crossed their line.

    • Jamo57

      I’m not sure I would characterize it as taking them hostage as he wasn’t really under contract, as Kam was, outside of the “franchise” tag. Norman took a risk in negotiating stance and lost.

      It happens from time to time with Scott Boras and his clients in baseball. Was it Kendrys Morales who turned down a pretty substantial qualifying offer from the Ms and was forced to sign a much lower deal in June with KC? Of course it worked out in that he’s played in two World Series, but in the short term he lost big. It’s happened with other players too.

      No one holds a gun to the head of either side in these things but it does make a fan snicker when it blows up on the side making the crazy demands. :-)

      • Kevin Lynch

        Yes, I agree with what you’re saying. He was a Boras guy? Oh boy. There must have been a feeling on the Panthers that he just was not willing to play along and that took them away from any long term deal. Or Scott Boras hardballed the team with his demands and the tag was the only way. Either way every other team is going to be wary.

        • Jamo57

          I was using Boras and his negotiating strategies as an example, sorry. He’s had a few players turn down pretty lucrative offers and then have to sign after the season starts for much less after miscalculating their market value.

          As far as I know he’s just a baseball agent. But I think Kam’s agent made a serious error in calculating leverage last year (assuming Kam was following his agent’s advice).

          • John M

            Art said an agent will follow what a player tells him he wants. I didn’t want to think that about Kam, it felt better to blame the agent, but Art knows the inside of these things better than we do. The sad part with Kam is the memory of how happy he was when he got his contract – he was one of the highest paid SS. Then in a year the market changed . . .

          • Jamo57

            You may be right. Or perhaps that relationship between player and agent and mixture of advice vs. representing the wishes of what the player wants varies with each agent and each relationship between player and agent.

            Keep in mind Michael Bennett fired his agent and hired Beat Mode’s. I would think Bennett did so hoping for different results going forward.

          • eYeDEF

            Yeah but it became clear after a while during Kam’s hold out that it had become personal for Kam and it had nothing to do with his agent.

    • Jamo57

      Of course having said all that, if I was a Panthers fan I might feel victimized. It sure makes a big difference when it’s someone else’s team. LOL.

    • John M

      Some people can’t negotiate, just demand. When you do that the other side often decides they’ll do biz elsewhere. He walked away from 14 mil by pissing off the ownership. It’s his sandwich, we’ll see what he can do with it. Much as teams want Revis he can’t stick, maybe because another CB on the team with stats as good or nearly so wants the same money. The Hawks have Sherman, but he’s handled it much different than a lot of them. He doesn’t flaunt it, trains the young guys and does a ton of community service. Norman just ran out of money ceiling before ego ceiling . . .

  • jafabian

    I’m interested to see if he gets the money that he was asking for. I’m thinking he won’t. In fact it’d be funny if he ends up getting less than what the Panthers offered him.

    • Harriettesevans

      “my room mate Mary Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr”..,……..!wc298ctwo days ago grey MacLaren P1 I bought after earning 18,512 was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k DoIIars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 DoIIars…Learn. More right Here !wc298:➽:➽:➽➽➽➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsWealthGetPayHourly$98…. .❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦::::::!wc298……

    • eYeDEF

      There’s always a team that will step up and pay the price a guy like Norman is asking. Sure he was a little overrated and only coming off one super All Pro year, but it doesn’t really matter when you’re a UDFA. If the Redskins hadn’t paid him, the Saints or Niners would have done so … happily.

      • art thiel

        So we see. Dan Snyder to the rescue.

    • art thiel

      Well, now you know — 5 yrs, 75M. Not funny.

      • jafabian

        It’s Washington. I’m assuming this was Snyder’s call. I doubt McCloughan initiated this.