Allen Park — The Lions aren’t among the teams reportedly showing interest in surprise free-agent cornerback Josh Norman to this point, but one player said he’d like to see the team take a chance on the former Panthers star.
“If it’s going to help us win, I’m all about it,” Lions wide receiver Golden Tate said Thursday when asked about the possibility of the team pursuing Norman.
The Panthers rescinded the franchise tag from Norman on Wednesday, a shocking development that suddenly makes him the best player on the free-agent market.
According to an ESPN report Thursday, the teams that have expressed interest in Norman thus far are San Francisco, Washington, Pittsburgh, Miami, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Tennessee and the New York Jets.
With the Lions still planning to cut linebacker Stephen Tulloch, they have about $22 million in cap space for 2016, which gives them room to pursue a deal with Norman, whose franchise tag was set to be about $14 million for next season. However, new general manager Bob Quinn was hesitant to overspend in free agency this year, and the Lions likely will use a portion of their cap space to pursue extensions with their 2013 draft picks.
Quinn declined to say Thursday if the Lions were interested in Norman.
And one of the top priorities is re-signing cornerback Darius Slay, a second-round pick in that 2013 class. Norman, 28, was a first-team All-Pro in 2015, and even though a cornerback tandem of him and Slay would be tough for opponents, signing Norman might not be worth the risk of impacting negotiations with Slay.
However, from Tate’s perspective, Norman could help the Lions, though Tate admitted he doesn’t know the team’s plans.
“I didn’t get a chance to play against (Norman) this year when they announced that he was the best cornerback in the league,” Tate said. “I’d love to see him and Slay playing together. We’d definitely love to have him.”