So apparently the Bills decided to throw a one year ‘prove it’ deal to Josh Norman after he was recently released by Washington. If the numbers are to be believed, $6M guaranteed (goes to $8M with incentives) looks like a relative bargain for a former star cornerback for the Carolina Panthers.
He was subsequently traded to Washington where he languished until he was mercifully released. He would have been a $12M cap hit if they retained the former Panther, who ended up being benched in Washington by the end of last season.
It’s an interesting move, given that Ron Rivera was his head coach in Carolina and then recently hired by Washington after yet another disastrous experiment by Daniel Snyder when he hired and then ultimately fired Jay Gruden.
Josh Norman played for then-defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, and Brandon Beane was on the Carolina staff at the time Norman played there as well. So why would McBeane choose to sign a 33 year old guy who was overpaid by Washington and looks to be on the downside of his career?
This is a classic McBeane move, that’s why. Last year it was Kevin Johnson who was the team’s ‘reclamation project’ with a one-year deal. Johnson was a former first round pick by the Houston Texans. He had a decent, but not outstanding year for the Bills. The knock on him was his ability to stay healthy, which to his credit he did manage to do.
Josh Norman was drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Panthers… but he quickly became one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL during the mid-2010’s.
However, Norman didn’t enjoy the same success in the NFL outside of Sean McDermott’s defense. Ron Rivera wasn’t quite as enamored with Norman as McDermott seemed to be, as the little tidbit below reveals.
Ron Rivera once chided Norman for a costly flub against the EJ Manuel led Bills in 2013. Here’s what Ron Rivera said after the game, via Wikipedia:
“Apparently, Josh Norman didn’t play it. It’s a critical situation. You get a communication. You see you have the switch and you fall off looking for the No. 2 receiver to run the No. 7 like he did. You’d like to believe when the call is made you execute the call and you’re in position to make the play.”
(Regarding Norman’s mistake against the Buffalo Bills)
So why would McBeane want to take a flyer on a 33 year old Ron Rivera reject?
As time goes on, we’re learning the McBeane way of doing things. One thing we’ve learned from the E.J. Gaines and Kevin Johnson experiment is that they like to take one-year flyers on veteran cornerbacks who they believe are potentially undervalued.
So far, I’d say their choices seem to pan out in that they are getting at least what they pay for their rental services. Given they are working on a Tre’Davious White mega-extension, it makes sense for them to sign a moderately priced free agent and perhaps draft another corner as well (something many think should be done every year).
This is a smart move by McBeane. It puts them in a good position to draft a corner wherever there is value, as well as have a better idea how many Brinks’ trucks to bring to One Bills Drive when Tre’Davious White signs his next contract.
Editor’s babble: I love this move. Holler at me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.