Cornerback Josh Norman is now a free agent, and several teams will likely try and sign him. The San Francisco 49ers should not be among those teams.
This past Friday, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported cornerback Josh Norman had been released by the Washington Redskins. And just as soon as that news broke, various NFL teams were named as potential suitors for him.
The San Francisco 49ers, however, are not a team that should make a move to sign Norman. There are a variety of reasons why they shouldn’t even ponder this move.
Let’s examine a few of them.
Norman’s body of work isn’t as impressive as he seems to get credit for. Consider, in his eight NFL seasons, he only has one Pro Bowl and one first-team All-Pro team selection. Those achievements were both awarded to him in the 2015 season when he was a member of the Carolina Panthers.
His 2015 season was great, and it likely led to him getting his five-year, $75 million deal with the Redskins in 2016. Since then, he has been less than spectacular. In the 2019 season in which he only appeared in 12 games, he had only one interception and six passes defended.
Pro Football Focus gave Norman a 45.6 overall grade for the 2019 season. That is not a grade a top-tier cornerback would want to have attached to his name. He has significantly fallen off from his best season in 2015, and it’s hard to see him recreating the same success in the future.
A second factor to consider is Norman is on the wrong side of 30 years old. He turned 32 years old this past December, and odds are he won’t gain back the same speed he had in his 20s. The cornerback position is one that relies heavily on speed and being able to keep pace with wide receivers on the field.
Wide receivers are getting more athletic and versatile with each new draft class. Therefore, adding an aging cornerback to a roster may not be the best move for any team not in dire need. Combine that with the fact the Norman missed multiple games in 2019 due to hand and thigh injuries, and there is enough evidence for the 49ers to stay away from this signing.
Contrarians may point to the fact the Niners signed cornerback Richard Sherman in 2018 who was recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. And also follow that up with the fact Sherman returned to his old form.
However, in 2018, Sherman’s body of work was much more impressive than Norman’s in 2019.
In 2018. Sherman had finished his seventh season and had four Pro Bowl and three first-team All-Pro selections. Combine those accolades with all the intangibles he brings, such as his leadership and tenacity, and Sherman presented a much better option in 2018 than Norman does at the moment.
A third factor which should be a cause for concern is the Redskins released Josh Norman right after new head coach Ron Rivera came into office. Rivera was Norman’s head coach in Carolina from 2012 to 2015. And typically, when a head coach reunites with a former player on a new team, the results are positive.
Norman had his best season as a pro in 2015 under Rivera. One would think it would be a grand reunion, and Rivera would celebrate the chance to work with Norman again.
But in a little over a month under the new regime, Norman is gone.
Now Rivera stated he wanted to “get younger” as a team, but if a veteran player had all the ability and leadership skills he wanted, there would be no reason to move on from him. Rivera let him go during his time with the Panthers and he let him go during his time with Redskins. Those actions speak volumes.
The 49ers have many priorities to take care of this offseason. It begins with re-signing as much of their in-house talent as possible and continues with finding free-agent talent that can complement those players.
Norman is not a player who complements the current San Francisco roster.
What he would bring to the table as far as ability is not worth the money it will likely cost to sign him. Norman is a player the 49ers should stay far away from this offseason.