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Josh Norman most likely landing spots, how it affects Raiders

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Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Right now fans across the NFL are praying they get to watch Josh Norman play in their favorite team's uniform next season. But in reality, very few will actually have a chance to see it. The Panthers released Norman today after he hadn't signed his franchise tag and the team couldn't come to terms with him on a long term deal. Making the top cornerback in the NFL last season an unrestricted free agent. And the feeding frenzy begins.

Norman is clearly looking for a huge payday. With most teams having used up most of their cap space already - including the Raiders who have just over $9 million to spend before the projected rookie pool of over $6 million gets tacked on - there aren't many who will be able to afford what Norman is likely asking.

Currently there are six teams (besides the Panthers) who have over $20 million in cap space - the Jaguars ($53 mil), 49ers ($52 mil), Browns ($39 mil), Titans ($29 mil), Giants ($22 mil), and Bears ($22 mil). And when you factor in the rookie pool, over $20 million available is probably what it would take to get Norman, making these six teams the most likely to make a serious play for Norman's services.

First off, none of those teams are in the Raiders' division. So, that's a positive all by itself.

Also consider all but one of those teams picks ahead of the Raiders in the upcoming draft. Which means if any of them sign Norman to a free agent deal, it raises the likelihood a more highly rated cornerback would be available when the Raiders select at 14 overall.

The top cornerbacks in the draft are Florida State's Jalen Ramsey, Florida's Vernon Hargreaves III, Clemson's MacKensie Alexander, Ohio State's Eli Apple, and Houston's William Jackson III.

Ramsey is a lock to go top five in the draft, making Hargreaves the target after that. According to the SB Nation mock draft database, the most likely destination for Hargreaves would be the Buccaneers at 9th overall with 39.3% of mock drafts projecting he will be taken at that spot. The next highest projected spot is the Bears at 11 overall (11.2%), and then the Miami Dolphins at 13 (8.4%).

So, imagine if the Bears use their copious amounts of cap space to reel in Norman. That takes one team out of the mix for a cornerback, leaving the Buccaneers and Dolphins as the two teams ahead of the Raiders who are in most need of a cornerback.

Then consider that defensive end is arguably a greater position of need for the Buccaneers, with Joey Bosa, Shaq Lawson, and DeForest Buckner as the next three most projected picks for the them there.

If the Buccaneers opt for a pass rusher instead, the Raiders would just be looking at the Dolphins as the only other team looking at drafting a cornerback, leaving several options available to them even if the Dolphins do make the expected cornerback selection.