Here Are 5 CBs The Panthers Could Acquire As Josh Norman Replacements

The Carolina Panthers surprisingly pulled the franchise tag off CB Josh Norman, letting one of the top CBs in the NFL reach free agency and making CB a major need for the Panthers. With Norman no longer on the roster, the Panthers now need to add at least one CB before the season starts. 

The pickings are slim at CB in free agency, and the Panthers addition of Brandon Boykin won't be enough to replace Norman, since Boykin plays the slot. The lack of options is why the Panthers could look to the draft to address the massive need that is CB. Bene Benwikere can handle one CB spot, but he's not a No. 1 option and the Panthers have only two other players on the roster who have seen NFL snaps. Neither Teddy Williams nor Robert McClain should see major snaps if the Panthers want to stop opposing WRs next year. With that in mind, here are 5 CBs The Panthers Could Acquire As Josh Norman Replacements: 

5. Antonio Cromartie, FA

If the Panthers look to free agency, Cromartie is one of the few options. He'd likely be cheap, since he's coming off a down season with the New York Jets. He's said he wants to play for the Cowboys, but they have yet to offer a contract. Cromartie, at age 32, isn't a great option, but the free agent options are thin. 

4. Xavien Howard, Baylor

If the Panthers don't take a CB in Round One, a player like Howard is their best bet in Round 2. Howard has the ability to make plays, but also gives them up. A very physical corner, Howard will need to acclimate to the NFL. Howard would be a quality Round 2 selection, if he lasts that long. If Howard goes before the Panthers are on the clock, there might not be anyone worth taking at the end of the round. 

3. Leon Hall, FA

Hall has yet to sign, in part because he reportedly underwent back surgery. But he can still play in the NFL and would bring a quality veteran presence. Working against Hall is that he might be better off in the slot, and the Panthers already added Brandon Boykin to fill that role. But there aren't many CBs left on the market, and Hall is among the best ones.  

2. Mackensie Alexander, Clemson 

This might be a bit of a pipe dream, as there's a good chance Alexander is off the board. But his draft stock seems to be all over the place, and he could be an option for the Panthers at the end of the first. If he's still on the board, the Panthers should run to the podium with this pick. Alexander didn't record picks at Clemson, but also didn't allow TDs. Teams simply didn't throw at him. If Alexander is off the board, Eli Apple, or worst case Kendall Fuller, are options. 

1. Josh Norman, FA

Hear me out. Just because the Panthers pulled the franchise tag off Norman doesn't mean he's guaranteed to leave Carolina. Norman wants $16 million, but if he can't find that type of money on the open market, he could come back to the Panthers. After all, this is the team that drafted him, he has friends on the team and he loves it in Carolina. While there could be some hurt feelings, if the money ends up being close, he could decide to return to the Panthers. Plus, there's a chance GM Dave Gettleman thinks that's exactly what will end up happening. Norman hitting the open market allows him to determine his true value. If it's not in the $15 million range, don't be surprised if he re-signs with the Panthers. 

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Related Topics: Leon Hall, Xavien Howard, Panthers News, Panthers Rumors, Mackensie Alexander, Antonio Cromartie, Josh Norman