Twenty-seven-year-old cornerback Josh Norman is leading the charge for the Carolina Panthers, one of the best defensive teams in the NFL.
A fifth-round pick in 2012, Norman is having a huge season for the Panthers, and he has played a big part in making them the fifth-best pass defense in the league.
Through four games, Norman has four interceptions, one of which was a pick-six in Week 1, and the second was a game-clinching pick of Saints quarterback Luke McCown in Week 3.
In the opening minutes of Week 4, Norman picked off Jameis Winston and returned it for a touchdown:
— NFL (@NFL) October 4, 2015
Norman came down with his fourth interception later in the game as the Panthers choked the Bucs for a 37-23 win to move to 4-0 on the season.
According to ProFootball Focus, Norman has been one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL this season. Through the first three weeks, he was the sixth-highest targeted corner in the league, but he has yet to surrender a 50-yard game to an opponent, and he has earned PFF’s second-best grade among cornerbacks.
He’s also the first defensive player with two touchdowns this season, according to ESPN.
For Norman, the timing couldn’t be better. He’s set to hit free agency this offseason, and recent history shows teams are willing to spend on top cornerbacks.
The NFL world is already anticipating a big payday for Norman:
Josh Norman, with pick six, is playing his way into a big pay day in free agency next year much like Byron Maxwell did last year.
— John Clayton (@ClaytonESPN) October 4, 2015
Josh Norman with his second pick six of the season. Pay that man.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) October 4, 2015
NORMAN! He's gonna get paaaaaaaaaaaaaid.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 4, 2015
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) October 4, 2015
As John Clayton noted, Byron Maxwell was given a six-year, $63 million contract from the Eagles this past offseason, and he’s hardly the first top cornerback to make big money. The Jets gave Darrelle Revis a five-year, $70 million deal this past offseason. Richard Sherman got a four-year, $56 million extension in 2014, and Patrick Peterson got a five-year, $70 million extension last season, too.
Norman, who was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September, is currently making $1.5 million this season.
If he keeps up this current pace, Norman could be looking at a huge payday this offseason.