Redskins need CB Josh Norman to be 'superstar'

  • By Grant Gordon
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Drawing acclaim for his trysts with Odell Beckham Jr. and his all-around stupendous play, cornerback Josh Norman was considered to be among the elite in one of the game's most high-profile positions.

It feels like that was a long time ago, though.

It was in 2015 when Norman -- in his final season with the Carolina Panthers - earned his first and only All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections.

After that breakout season, Norman inked a huge five-year, $75 million deal with the Washington Redskins.

Has Norman lived up to the hype and earned that lofty pay day? Most would answer in the negative and it would seem that Redskins coach Jay Gruden is within that group.

"To say he's performed as the best cornerback in the National Football League would be far-fetched," Gruden said per ESPN. "But I will say this: I'm glad we got him. I think not having Josh Norman, our team would be not quite as competitive as we have been with Josh Norman. Moving forward having Josh Norman on this roster is going to help us get where we want to go."

So, to clarify, Gruden thinks Norman is doing just fine, but has he been playing as one of the very best, which he was paid as? Likely not.

Still, Gruden points out that like many top-flight cornerbacks, once you make a name for yourself, passes come in your direction a lot less. Thus, it often becomes difficult to quantify just how well said defensive back is actually doing.

"Given the opportunities that he's had, I think he's done a pretty good job," Gruden said. "It's hard to see superstar play sometimes from corners because offenses may throw away from them. Patrick Peterson, you'll see him some games and only have one tackle and no pass breakups and you'll say 'well Patrick didn't even play.' Well they didn't even throw his way. ... We just hope that when those plays present themselves that [Norman] will make those plays in the future. So it's really tough to judge Josh's play because he doesn't get a lot of opportunities."

A physical and aggressive CB, Norman has forced seven fumbles in three Washington seasons with 37 passes defended (though 19 came in the 2016 year) and six interceptions.

Perhaps the best way to sum up Norman's play so far in Washington is that he's been good, but not great. And he was most assuredly brought in with the notion that he was one of the greatest in the game at his position.

With two more seasons to go on the deal and $23 million due him in base salary and a $30 million cap hit over that span, it's time for Norman to shine bright once more.

"People seem to be disappointed in his play. I'm not disappointed at all. Josh is a good football player and does some great things for us," Gruden said. "Now we're looking for more from Josh and he's gonna give us more because we're gonna demand more. We're looking for superstar status at corner from Josh."