The Chicago Bears have one week to prepare for the NFL Draft, but some surprising news on Wednesday night could have a big impact on the team’s selection show plans.
That news has to do with cornerback Josh Norman, who until Wednesday had been franchise tagged by the Carolina Panthers. On Wednesday afternoon, the team rescinded the tag, instantly making Norman a free agent and making him arguably the most sought after players on the market.
Naturally, with a large amount of salary cap room and a need at cornerback, the Bears were instantly tabbed as a possible contender for Norman’s services, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed their interest on Thursday:
The question of course is whether or not it would be wise for the Bears to go after Norman. After all, Norman will be 29 by the end of the 2016 season, and the production decline after the age of 30 is steep among NFL cornerbacks.
That knowledge could make the notion of giving Norman a contract that will pay him between $14 and 16 million (his rumored asking price) per season a tough sell for NFL executives, including Bears G.M. Ryan Pace. The Bears have made it a point in free agency to only give long-term deals to younger players (think Danny Trevathan and Pernell McPhee), and there are questions about whether they’d be willing to take the plunge on Norman.
At the same time, a player of his caliber could instantly make a difference for a team that has aspirations of stepping up their play in a big way this season. The Bears could opt to draft a starting corner, with players like Vernon Hargreaves likely on their radar, but adding Norman would give the team a bona fide star at the position and allow them even more flexibility with the 11th overall pick next week.