With no warning, one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL is freely available one week before the NFL draft. If Norman was on the market when free agency started in March, he easily would have been the No. 1 overall player on our board.
Here are some potential landing spots for Norman:
San Francisco 49ers: General manager Trent Baalke was looking for help in free agency at cornerback, but came up empty. Rapoport mentioned the 49ersas a front-runner for Norman in a move aimed at adding some spark to what has been a disappointing offseason. They have more than $50 million in salary-cap room, so money shouldn't be a problem.
Jacksonville Jaguars: They have the most salary-cap room in the league ($53 million according to OvertheCap.com) and were trying to upgrade their defense quickly. They were ready to pay Olivier Vernon monster money, but the Giants out-spent them. The case against the Jaguars: They weren't really tied to the other available free-agent cornerbacks out there and are fairly deep at cornerback.
Tennessee Titans: They have the fourth-most cap room in the league and not much talent at cornerback.
Los Angeles Rams: They placed the franchise tag on cornerback Trumaine Johnson and were still in negotiations to retain Janoris Jenkins before he left for the Giants. Norman's physical style would be a good fit for Gregg Williams' defense, but the Rams don't have a ton of cap room -- $12 million according to OvertheCap.com.
Oakland Raiders: Sure, they just signed a physical 28-year-old cornerback in Sean Smith and they don't have as much cap space after their spending spree this offseason. But these Raiders are in win-now mode, they have a huge need in the secondary, and they love big personalities like Norman. He just sounds like a Raider.
This sounds like a longshot for Norman, especially based on general manager Dave Gettleman's statement wishing Norman well in the future. But we wouldn't rule out a Carolina return for Norman when the dust settles. We know that Carolina had a big contract offer on the table and Norman is comfortable in the Panthers' scheme.
There is an open question about how the rest of the NFL will value Norman. If things don't go as planned, a return to the Panthers isn't so crazy.