The Carolina Panthers have some work to if they are going to bring back the same team that took them to the Super Bowl. While the Panthers are in a great spot in terms of salary cap space, they have some long-term deals that might be difficult to negotiate. The first priority for the team will be to retain Josh Norman which will be easier said than done for the franchise.
Norman intends on getting paid like one of the best cornerbacks in the league. He turned down a $7 million a year deal earlier in the season which means he is aiming big. The former fifth-round pick certainly has the production on the field to warrant a big contract, but a franchise tag is likely where the two sides are headed. A one-year deal for Norman would cost just over $13 million and general manager Dave Gettleman is not afraid to use it.
"I've used it before," Gettleman said, via the Charlotte Observer. "I'm not shy. I'm not afraid of it. After we evaluate everything, we're going to do what we think is in the best interests of the Carolina Panthers. I'll use whatever mechanism is available. That's part of roster building. You look at this team we've put together, and it's been through the draft, after draft signings, unrestricted free agent signings, street free agent signings, trades, claims. We've done it all."
If Norman wants to be on par with the contracts given to players like Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis, he would be earning north of $14 million. Norman is worth the money, but Gettleman does not want to sell the farm on just one player. Defensive end Jared Allen needs a new contract along with Charles Tillman. Allen is set to be an $8.5 million cap hit in 2016 which is high for a player his age, but the sack leader is worth the money. The Panthers could try and negotiate a pay cut while Tillman could ink a one-year deal at best.
There could also be adjustments in the ground game. Jonathan Stewart had a breakout year, but he is a heavy cap hit for a running back. The Panthers could put their faith in Cameron Artis-Payne for the future if they feel they are overpaying on Stewart. Mike Tolbert is hoping he can remain in the rotation as well as he hopes to return to Carolina. He will also likely be asked to take a pay cut if he wants to return.
The Panthers do not have a lot of needs to fill, but they have players carrying large contracts that must be adjusted. Gettleman will have to get to work and it starts with Norman.