On Josh Norman’s sudden free agency, the Eagles’ bold trade and all things NFL draft
1) I think I keep circling back to GM Dave Gettleman’s quote from the combine about his philosophy of managing the Panthers’ roster: “I’m not in the business of developing players for other teams.” Carolina had invested so much more than money in Norman, who became a sudden free agent entering his fifth season when the team rescinded his franchise tag. Benched for nine of 13 games during his second year for freelancing on plays, Norman underwent tutoring with defensive backs coach Steve Wilks while owner Jerry Richardson became something of a life coach to the young corner. Might negotiations have been so far apart that the Panthers realized a one-year lease for Norman (at $14 million) wasn’t worth it? It may be as simple as that.
2) I think I don’t like anyone comparing Norman to Greg Hardy and using the idea of him being “a locker room distraction” as rationale for why the Panthers cut ties. Hardy was ostracized by teammates in 2014. I’ve spent time in the Panthers locker room and feel comfortable saying that while Norman has offbeat off-field interests—among them a love for theater and riding horses—he is generally liked by teammates. To me, a looming holdout would be the only thing that could irk other Panthers. But to compare his situation to Greg Hardy’s? Totally unfair.
3) I think I happened to be talking to an offensive player from an NFC South team when the Norman story broke. When his initial shock settled, his sentiment is one likely echoed by peers: “If that guy doesn’t have leverage for a deal, what non-QB in this league does?”
4) I think I might be in the minority, but I endorse the Eagles’ bold climb to snag the No. 2 pick and, presumably, their quarterback of the future (likely Carson Wentz). The NFL is a quarterback-driven league. If your scouting staff has a strong conviction in a quarterback, go out there and get your guy, especially if you are afforded the opportunity to groom him slowly. Wentz has the physical ability, and also the eat-sleep-breathe football mentality (he has been known to draw up plays on napkins while on a date with his girlfriend). That seems like a player who would embrace and thrive in a redshirt year. Howie Roseman bought himself at least two years of job security, and a good chance to lock up a starting quarterback for the next decade.
5) I think I do, however, have issue with the Eagles having already committed so much money to Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel (a combined $34 million guaranteed). If Wentz is going to get the most out of his developmental year, he will need to take practice reps. There simply is not enough time to give three guys adequate reps. So what exactly is Daniel’s purpose on the roster?
6) I think we can make all the Moneyball jokes we want, but 12 draft picks in the top 100 is an incredible haul for the Browns. Now let’s see if they can use them more economically than they did with the bounty they received for Julio Jones. With picks from the Falcons, the Browns chose… Owen Marecic, Greg Little, Phil Taylor, Brandon Weeden (and moved up for Trent Richardson). No need to remind you where those players are now.
7) I think so much of the draft process is about confirmation bias. Look no further than Jeremy Fowler’s riveting oral history on how Ben Roethlisberger landed in Pittsburgh—more specifically, how the Browns passed over the Miami (Ohio) quarterback. Among the most revealing, and damning anecdotes, came via Carmen Policy, Cleveland’s president from 2000-04. “Some of our coaches especially liked [Roethlisberger] a lot. They thought he was tough, he’s what Cleveland needed. He would fit the profile of the AFC North. The scouts and Butch Davis’ chief personnel guy [Pete Garcia] really tried steering everybody away from Ben, almost putting him in the position where he’s not our guy. He didn’t have a shot. They made up their minds, he was coming from a less-than-sophisticated program, a smaller school, a program not nearly as competitive as a top-10 pick would be coming from, and that was their position, and they prevailed. Butch had final say. We are picking too high for him. That was the sentiment.”
8) I think two weeks ago we were cementing Laremy Tunsil as the sure No. 1 selection of the draft. Now he could slide as far as No. 6 to the Ravens. Ozzie Newsome has history as an excellent drafter, but this is just fortuitous.
9) I think leaks about Myles Jack’s medical re-check—which ranged from positive to describing Jack’s body as a “time bomb”—speak to the thirst for juicy storylines at this time of year, and how misdirection and misinformation is rampant. Jack’s agent, John Thornton, has every right to express frustration.
10) I think speaking of knees, good point by agent Blake Baratz, whose client O’Brien Schofield endured similar health concerns during the draft process in 2009 (the linebacker sustained an ACL injury in the Senior Bowl). Per Baratz: “And he’s only played in 56 straight NFL games.”
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