Josh Norman Franchise-Tagged by Panthers: Latest Contract Details, Reaction

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent III

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17:   Josh Norman #24 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after a play against the Seattle Seahawks in the 3rd quarter during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Star cornerback Josh Norman bet on himself this season and played as well as anyone at his position in football, helping the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 record and the No. 1 NFC playoff seed. 

Now Norman will rake in a huge payday to remain with Carolina—albeit for only one guaranteed season.

On March 1, the Panthers announced they have designated Norman with the franchise tag, which will pay him an estimated $13.7 million in 2016.

Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer initially reported the news and added the two sides have until July 15 to continue negotiating a long-term extension. 

"I don't know when I'll sign the franchise tag offer," Norman said on Friday, per SiriusXM NFL Radio. "I don't rush into anything." 

“I’m comfortable where I’m at. Trust and believe,” Norman told Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer. “If I’ve waited this long I can wait on them some more. I got no problem waiting. Waiting got me where I need to be at the end of the day. Trust me: waiting is my specialty.”

The 28-year-old was a 2012 fifth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina and took some time to come into his own, but 2015 was his true breakout campaign. Norman had 18 passes defensed and four interceptions, forced three fumbles and made 56 combined tackles.

So not only did he play lockdown coverage and often take away the opponent's No. 1 receiver, he also showed a willingness to step up in run support.

Doing so in a contract year shows the type of competitive fervor and integrity Norman brings to the gridiron, justifying the hefty sum Carolina has invested in him.

Rapoport reported ahead of the Panthers' NFC title-game clash with the Arizona Cardinals that Norman had "intense" negotiations with Carolina before the regular season even began. Although the two sides were far apart at the time, at least Norman is making a hefty salary for another potential championship push.

Replacing someone of Norman's caliber would have been impossible. Despite having one of the better front sevens in the NFL, Carolina's secondary needed its first-team All-Pro. A quick-fix franchise tag wasn't the ideal scenario, but the move shows the Panthers understand Norman's value.

In the absence of a long-term deal with Norman, general manager Dave Gettleman would do well to prioritize a cornerback earlier in the 2016 draft.

There aren't many other viable options on the current roster. Bringing in a talented corner to work opposite Norman and learn from him would be a cost-effective way to improve the Panthers' vaunted defense even more—and provide a contingency plan of sorts if Norman walks in free agency next offseason.

Provided he maintains the level of play he's shown over the past year or so, Norman will be well worth the top dollar he commanded and likely secure a big, multiyear contract in Carolina soon enough.