Editor's note: The above video is from Feb. 2, 2016.
One of the top cornerbacks in the NFL unexpectedly became an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday.
And that player, Josh Norman, spoke highly of the Bay Area and the 49ers during his time in the region as the Carolina Panthers prepared for Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
“I like the Bay, I love it,” Norman said during Super Bowl week in February. “I woke up this morning and I open the curtains and I see the hills, the valleys and plains. So gorgeous.
“Yeah, man, it's like from a movie script. Like from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie, that sharp. It's unbelievable. And then I rolled to San Fran and I was looking at the scenery on the side of the road and I was like, ‘Man this is really cool.’ I can probably see myself here one time or two."
Norman spoke specifically about the 49ers, too.
“They’re tremendous, and one of the greatest teams we have among the 32,” Norman said, as the Mercury News first reported. “Their championships in the Super Bowls are epic. They’ve had all-time greats. They’re right up there with the Packers and Dallas Cowboys in how they do things.”
The 49ers, coming off a 5-11 season, are owners of the No. 7 overall pick. But the 49ers have $52.6 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association. The 49ers are one of the teams in the league that can offer Norman a big contract.
“I know they’re rebuilding over there, and I know they have a new coach in Chip Kelly,” Norman said. “There’s a lot of things that San Francisco has going on for themselves right now. It’s beautiful out here. It really is.”
The Panthers on Wednesday announced the organization has rescinded its non-exclusive franchise tender to Norman, making him an immediate free agent.
"After a number of conversations with Josh's agent we realized that a long-term deal was not attainable," Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said in a statement. "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."
The Panthers originally placed the franchise tag of $13.952 million on Norman, who was looking for a contract of approximately $16 million annually, the Charlotte Observer reported.
Norman, 28, a four-year veteran started 16 games for the first time in his career. He was selected first-team All Pro and earned his first Pro Bowl nomination after recording a career-high four interceptions.