In a shocking move out of Charlotte, NC today the Panthers have elected to remove the franchise tag that they had placed on star cornerback Josh Norman. This makes him an unrestricted free agent and any team can sign him- the problem here is that the free agency period is largely over and few teams have the requisite cap space to sign someone of Norman's caliber, as he is arguably the best cornerback in football at this point.
It seems Norman's release was financially motivated, according to this tweet by USA TODAY/Sirius football media person Tom Pelissero:
#Panthers GM Dave Gettleman says a long-term deal with Josh Norman "was not attainable". pic.twitter.com/xHETlYNBOm— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 20, 2016
There are a few teams left who can pay the $15M-plus that Norman is sure to be asking for. The Jaguars, 49ers, Bears, Rams and Giants all have plenty of space left at this point. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they've more or less spent their money, with only around $9M left which includes the rookie pool they will have to spend after the cap.
As if the NFL needed any more drama leading up to the draft, the courting of Josh Norman is going to be hot and heavy in the next few days.