Josh Norman: 'I got sideswiped' by Carolina Panthers

Josh Norman became the NFL's highest-paid cornerback Friday, signing a five-year, $75 million deal with the Washington Redskins that includes $50 million in guarantees.

In a span of two days, Norman went from Carolina Panthers All-Pro to Redskins defensive cornerstone. It's a stunning sequence of events for a player of Norman's caliber a week before the draft. Even Norman was amazed by the Panthers' decision to unleash him on the free-agent market for an inevitable mammoth payday after rescinding their non-exclusive franchise tag on him.

"It came out of nowhere. It really did," Norman told Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic on Friday night, via the Redskins' official website. "I got sideswiped -- I didn't see it coming."

In the midst of trying to comprehend everything that comes with being a standout player in unrestricted free agency, Norman received a pleasant surprise -- Redskins team president Bruce Allen sent him an image of a Redskins No. 24 jersey.

"And the crazy thing is I didn't see it until a day and a half later because I was still getting over the fact of what was going on," Norman said. "That small amount of hours, everything went rapid and I came up here and it just felt right."

What felt right was the royal treatment the Redskins gave Norman when he visited the team Friday. The Redskins provided top-notch travel accommodations for Norman and several members of his family to the team's headquarters. Allen's simple, yet thoughtful recruiting tactic coupled with the team's red-carpet hospitality ultimately left an indelible impression on Norman.

Still, it was the team's rising competitiveness -- witnessed by its playoff berth last season -- that also played a role in persuading Norman to choose Washington.

"I would say what attracted me the most was that it still was a competitive team," Norman said. "When we played you guys last year, y'all was competing all the way until the bitter end. It was no let-up. You guys had the fight in you all. You're a playoff team; it was in the thick of things. And one piece here, one piece there, you guys can do what Carolina (did) when they went to the Super Bowl last year. And when I came here and I said that (about) that one missing piece, who knows, but I guarantee I'm going to give everything I am, everything I've got, because that's how I get it."

It's debatable whether Norman is the missing piece that will move the Redskins into Carolina Panthers country. What's not debatable is Norman has gotten his chance to prove he should be the NFL's highest-paid cornerback.