It’s been a long, tumultuous Redskins tenure for cornerback Josh Norman, who might be inching closer to a long-awaited divorce with the team.
Back in 2016, Josh Norman only considered the Washington Redskins as a long-term destination because he believed they were close to competing in the playoffs. The Redskins were coming off a 9-7 NFC East championship, and they’d supposedly found their long-term quarterback solution in Kirk Cousins.
After his franchise tag was rescinded by the Carolina Panthers, Norman was courted by several teams, and the zone specialist ultimately went with Washington, who shelled out a massive five-year, $75 million contract, making him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history at the time.
The deal made some sense at the time; even though Norman was 29 years old when he signed, he was coming off an All-Pro 2015 campaign in which he logged four interceptions, two pick-sixes, 18 pass deflections, and three forced fumbles.
Since that season, Norman, in four years with the Redskins, has amassed seven interceptions, 43 pass deflections, and seven forced fumbles. He hasn’t made it back to the Pro Bowl, or the All-Pro team, and this season, his play quality has taken a substantial dip; on Pro Football Focus, Josh Norman is the No. 106-ranked cornerback, out of 114 eligible players.
After an especially bad outing against the New York Jets, Norman’s starting job might be gone for good. According to The Athletic’s Erin Hawksworth, Norman will be inactive today against the Detroit Lions, after being benched midway through last week’s game. In his place, seventh-round rookie Jimmy Moreland will start on the boundary opposite Quinton Dunbar.
Norman’s status as a healthy scratch is surprising, even with his recent performance, and it sheds light on a harrowing reality for the Redskins, as it constitutes another massive investment that failed to pay off for the team. Norman was expected to be a game changer on defense, and while he had his good moments, and had a penchant for creating turnovers, he didn’t complete the puzzle, and now, after an inconsistent 2019 season, he’s officially left his prime, and his starting position.
It’s unclear what the Redskins will do with Norman for the five games remaining after the Lions contest today, but it’s clear that, with the season being lost, they want to see more from their younger players. Moreland will help them with that today. Norman should have been a tough act to follow. But in reality, he isn’t.
The Redskins changed their minds. Norman is active, and Aaron Colvin is inactive. That said, it’s still likely that Moreland gets the start over the veteran. Norman will be available in case of emergency.