Around the NFL  

 

Rivera on rescinding Josh Norman's tag: I'll trust GM

Print

Dave Gettleman's decision to rescind the franchise tag on Josh Norman will have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the Carolina Panthers' offseason and could leak into the 2016 season.

An already substantial hole at corner becomes crater-sized without Norman.

During a press conference Thursday, Gettleman lamented losing a player his coaching staff developed the past four years into one of the best corners in the NFL. The general manager, however, did not waver on his belief that the sides weren't close to agreeing on compensation.

The decision leaves the Panthers' coaching staff is a bit of a pickle in the secondary, but coach Ron Rivera said he trusts Gettleman's moves.

"It's a decision we made going forward," Rivera said. "I look at it this way, too, we've done some good things the last three years and some of the things that we've done have been very hard. I think Dave has had to make a couple tough decisions that have proven to be the best as we've gone forward. Quite honestly, I'm going to trust him on this one, too."

One of those those decisions came two years ago when the Panthers released receiver Steve Smith. The Panthers have coaxed production out of a less-talented pass-catching corps that was further depleted in 2015 without Kelvin Benjamin.

Rivera admitted the loss of Norman leaves a "bit of a hole" in the secondary. Bene' Benwikere, slotted to be the No. 2 corner, is coming off a broken leg. Brandon Boykin was signed as a slot corner. The rest of corner position is filled out with mostly inexperienced players: Robert McClain, Teddy Williams, Lou Young and Travell Dixon.

The situation could leave the Panthers' defense in a bind, but Gettleman assured there is still time to fill the void.

"You may say that 'Dave is cavalier about this,' and yada yada yada, but the bottom line is we don't play until September 8th," he said. "I've said this to you guys a number of times: sometimes the answer is on your roster."

How good that answer might be in 2016 will fall on Rivera and his staff to coach up unproven players. That job just got a whole lot more challenging.

Print