Report: Josh Norman Benched vs. Saints for Wearing Headphones During Halftime

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2018

Washington Redskins defensive back Josh Norman looks into the backfield during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)
Mark Tenally/Associated Press

Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman may have paid the price for literally tuning out of head coach Jay Gruden's halftime talk during a 43-19 defeat to the New Orleans Saints on Monday at the Superdome.

Washington, D.C., radio personality Kevin Sheehan reported Friday that Norman didn't take off his headphones during Gruden's speech. As a result, the coach benched him in the second half. The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg shared a transcript of the discussion:

Dan Steinberg @dcsportsbog

So here's something. Kevin Sheehan, longtime host of the Skins pregame show, reported on his podcast today that Josh Norman was benched last week for not taking his headphones off during Gruden's halftime talk. Here's Sheehan's report. Listen here https://t.co/KDjbTIAx36 https://t.co/CryxCD14Ot

ESPN.com's John Keim offered more perspective on the story:

John Keim @john_keim

What I Know: It was definitely something between Gruden and Norman that got a little heated and definitely not because of him getting beat in coverage. Know that they wanted Norman to sit out first series to calm down. https://t.co/hglzU2zw38

At the time, some wondered whether Norman's benching was performance-based. He and his fellow defensive backs were unable to stop Drew Brees in the first half.

Norman in particular looked culpable for the 62-yard touchdown pass to Tre'Quan Smith that made Brees the NFL's all-time leading passer.


With this 62-yard touchdown pass... @drewbrees is the NFL's all-time leading passer! 🙌 #GoSaints https://t.co/K6vTQVwfOe

Gruden played down the issue immediately after the game.

"We talked about some things at halftime," he said of Norman, per the Washington Post's Kareem Copeland. "Had to cool him down a little bit. Everything's fine. It'll be back to normal, and he'll play the rest of the year."

More concerning than the reason for Norman's benching, Sheehan reported: "There is not a lot of good vibes when it comes to Norman among several of the coaches right now. They're hopeful he begins to play better."

Norman won't be going anywhere this season. He counts for $16.9 million against the salary cap, so finding a trade suitor would be next to impossible. And releasing Norman outright would mean adding $16.5 million in dead money, per Over the Cap.

Were Washington to cut Norman in the offseason, he'd count for $6 million in dead money but provide $8.5 million in cap savings.