- The Washington Times - Monday, December 30, 2019

ASHBURN — Josh Norman isn’t buying into the speculation that he’s played his last game for the Washington Redskins.

Norman said Monday that nobody in the organization has told him he won’t return to the team in 2020.

“Not to my knowledge,” the cornerback said. “I think that everybody else has been speculating that for some odd reason. I don’t know why. I got another year left on my deal. What I know, I’m still here. Till something else change, I guess we’ll still be here.”

The idea stems from the fact that Washington tried to trade Norman before the deadline and benched him for the final month of the season. Cutting Norman, 32, would earn the Redskins cap savings of $12.5 million.

“Hindsight’s 20/20. I come out here, I want to do a job, but the organization decides to do something different,” Norman said as the Redskins cleaned out their lockers before the offseason. “And guess what, I respect that, because I signed on the bottom line. When you do that, I feel like … you can take it either one of two ways. You can go off the charts with it, or else you can build your character and just be settled. For me I just sat down and respected the chain of command and did my job. And that’s what they wanted to pay me to do, and I do it with a smile on my face.”

A new wrinkle, however, is that the Redskins reportedly plan to hire former Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera as their new coach. Norman played for Rivera in Carolina from 2012 to 2015.

Norman said it should be obvious why Rivera is a top candidate on the coaching market, particularly as it pertains to building a team culture.

If Rivera coached Washington, “everything as you see it today would be different,” Norman said, adding it would be “a day and night swap” from the current culture.

Later in the session, Norman seemed to admit that his future with Washington could be in doubt, when he said the team hiring Rivera and former Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks “doesn’t mean I’m still going to be here at this locker.”

But he added that it wouldn’t be a question of whether he wants to play for Rivera and Wilks again, because he planned to honor his contract.

“I signed on the bottom line. I’m married to (the Redskins) whether I want to be or not until something different,” Norman said. “I’m one of those guys where if I come in and I shake your hand, that means something to me. So regardless of how bad it looks or how good it looks: ugly, great, I’m here until the end.

“I don’t have a crystal ball here. I can’t tell you what’s gonna happen. Hell, I couldn’t predict this. Me coming here, my old ball coach over there (Rivera) getting chopped, now he’s here interviewing for the job. And their coach in Cleveland got chopped, turn around and they release the defensive coordinator I was with (Wilks). I can’t make none of this stuff up. Literally. It’s happening and before your very own eyes and you see it.”

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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