The Carolina Panthers have rescinded their franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman. The fifth-year veteran is now able to negotiate terms with teams as a free agent. Few would have thought it out of the ordinary when Norman opted out of the Panthers’ voluntary workout programme next week, but it seems that it was merely a precursor to the South Carolina native’s exit from the franchise. Norman was set to be paid almost $14 million in 2016 under the terms of the franchise tag, which would have given him an extra year with the team, time they could have spent hammering out a multi-year deal. However, it appears the two parties were well apart in terms of salary, with Norman’s representatives holding out for an annual payday of $16 million. But it seems the player’s age is a concern for the Panthers – he turns 29 before the end of the season – and a contract of more than three years might not have sat well with the Carolina management, who may see his breakout season last year as a flash in the pan. Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said: “After a number of conversations with Josh’s agent we realized that a long-term deal was not attainable. We have decided to rescind the Franchise Tag freeing Josh to immediately become a UFA. We thank Josh for all his contributions and truly wish him well.” Norman’s departure from the Panthers will set alarm bells ringing around the league, particularly in the war rooms of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears and Tennessee Titans. All those teams have a position of need at cornerback and the sufficient cap room to accommodate Norman’s salary demands. However, it also means that Carolina will be on the lookout for an elite corner in next week’s draft in Chicago. The franchise tag meant that the position was already on their radar as a replacement for Norman could have been needed a year from now, but his immediate exit from the team has made that need much more pressing, perhaps even more so than their needs at defensive end and at safety.