Steelers and Josh Norman are an attractive but unlikely pairing

What's next for Josh Norman? (1:50)

ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton looks at some other team options for free agent Josh Norman after the Panthers decided to rescind the franchise tag on the cornerback. (1:50)

The simple math works out -- the Pittsburgh Steelers need a cornerback, the long and athletic Josh Norman fits that need.

But the bigger math involves the close to $15-16 million annually Norman will try to demand as a sudden free agent the week before the draft. The Panthers had offered him a deal close to $11 million.

The Steelers' style is never to spend anything close to that on a player they didn't handpick through the draft.

But the Charlotte Observer reported Pittsburgh is one of several teams to make a preliminary inquiry on Norman's services. In March, the Steelers also called on safety Eric Weddle, who signed a four-year, $26-million deal with Baltimore.

The hefty price tag, coupled with the Steelers' $3.8 million in cap space, make this pairing unlikely.

Not impossible. But unlikely.

Cap space is basically just accounting anyway. A little money maneuvering could make this work if the Steelers really wanted to stretch it. If the Steelers frantically start restructuring existing contracts this week, watch out.

Norman wanted Darrelle Revis/Patrick Peterson money entering the offseason -- think $15 million per year -- before the Carolina Panthers rescinded his franchise tag. Even if Norman gets Byron Maxwell money, that's still $11 million per year, far out of the comfort zone for most teams.

Norman is a better player than Maxwell and would fit seamlessly in Pittsburgh's zone defensive looks.

As of now, though, the Steelers would surprise if they signed Norman before drafting a cornerback next week.

One way this could work is if the Steelers talked Norman into playing a one-year, high-money deal to set the stage for a huge payout in 2017. But Norman turns 29 in December. This is his one chance for a well-deserved payout.