The first free agent the Buffalo Bills signed this offseason was cornerback Josh Norman. The question now is did they overpay?
The Buffalo Bills front office has been rather aggressive this offseason and added plenty of talent at key position groups. They added depth along both the offensive and defensive lines, linebacker as well as cornerback.
One of the first moves they made was agreeing to terms with cornerback Josh Norman, who was released by the Washington Redskins earlier this offseason.
Josh Norman saw his notoriety rise as a member of the Carolina Panthers and he was in discussion as one of the top cornerbacks in the league. He eventually earned himself a massive contract with the Redskins after the Panthers rescinded the franchise tag they applied during the offseason in 2017.
However, he struggled during his time with the Redskins and even though their new head coach, Ron Rivera, knows Norman well they elected to release him in hopes of creating some cap space.
The Bills were quick to act and signed Norman to a one-year deal worth $6 million. While this move didn’t break the bank, especially with how much cap space the Bills have, now that the market has settled at cornerback, there has to be the question of if they overpaid?
The front office has to know that Norman is not a long-term solution at cornerback opposite Tre’Davious White. At this point in his career, it isn’t even a guarantee that he wins the starting job.
The deal begins to look even worse when reviewing some of the other contracts cornerbacks signed. Kevin Johnson, who began to playing significant snaps towards the end of the season for the Bills, agreed to a 1 year deal worth $3.5 million with the Cleveland Browns.
Mackensie Alexander, who is six years younger than Norman, returned to the Minnesota Vikings on a one-year deal worth $4 million. Alexander’s former teammate, Xavier Rhodes, signed a one-year deal worth $3 million with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts released Pierre Desir, which was a surprise and who may be the best in this group, signed only a one-year deal worth $5.5 million with the New York Jets, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
While the Buffalo Bills didn’t know that Rhodes and Desir would be available at the time of signing Josh Norman, since both were released, the deals they got shows the Bills didn’t get value with this deal.
A case could be made that all the other cornerbacks discussed would have been better options than Josh Norman. They are all younger than Norman and have performed better in recent years.
The reason the Buffalo Bills were as aggressive as they were was likely due to the fact that Josh Norman’s best years came under Sean McDermott, when he was defensive coordinator for the Panthers. They know what Norman was capable of, and with the uncertainty around what offseason training will be available due to the pandemic, it is a positive that Norman has experience in this defense.
Unfortunately, this question won’t be able to be answered until after this upcoming season and how the cornerbacks play. If Josh Norman plays closer to a level that fans saw in his final season in Carolina instead of what he showed in Washington, then the salary is justified.
If he struggles, or isn’t able to win the job from Levi Wallace, then the money would have been better spent elsewhere.