Andrew Norwell could give the Jaguars a tough choice in free agency
The Jacksonville Jaguars checked off a box from their offseason to-do list when they applied the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson. However, they still have plenty of decisions left to make, including whether they will re-sign offensive guard Andrew Norwell, who is set to hit the open market in a few days. If it were up to Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report, he wouldn’t bring the veteran back.
Davenport recently put together a list of one player each NFL team should refrain from re-signing in free agency and chose Norwell for the Jaguars. He believes that it will be more challenging to bring back the veteran guard after tagging Robinson and adds that Jacksonville could be better off with a “less expensive free agent” or a rookie offensive lineman.
"The Jaguars franchise-tagged Robinson on Tuesday, which knocked their cap space down to roughly $40.1 million. That also made re-upping Norwell that much more difficult. Norwell is much older than Robinson and had an average salary ($13.3 million) nearly as high as Robinson’s ($13.8 million) last season. The 30-year-old is a fine player, but he hasn’t been named an All-Pro since his final year in Carolina back in 2017. Jacksonville has the sixth-most cap space leaguewide and 12 draft picks to fill the holes all over its roster. Replacing Norwell with a less expensive free agent or rookie would free up resources to use elsewhere."
After going undrafted in 2014, Norwell signed with the Carolina Panthers and went on to become one of the top guards in the league, which helped him secure a five-year contract worth $66.5 million from the Jaguars. The former Ohio State Buckeye earn a First-Team All-Pro selection in his last year in Carolina but hasn’t gotten one during his stint in Jacksonville. Nevertheless, he’s been one of their most consistent players, and the team’s brass needs to decide whether they want to bring him back, as it may not be so simple to replace him.
What kind of offer should the Jaguars make to Andrew Norwell?
Norwell has not earned a Pro Bowl designation in his career but he’s a reliable starter, and that’s what the Jaguars should take into account when signing him. Last season, he agreed to a salary cut, and in return, the front office shed one year from his contract. The veteran guard should find demand for his services in free agency but it’s unlikely that he will strike a deal like the one he got in 2018.
Pro Football Focus expects Norwell to sign a three-year worth $21.75 million ($7.25 million annual average) and the Jags should have no trouble extending him that kind of offer. However, it will be up to him to decide whether he wants to stay and partake in yet another rebuild or join a contender.
At 30, Norwell still has plenty of gas left in the tank and although he isn’t an All-Pro nod at this stage of his career, he’s a solid starter, and that’s something teams would be looking for in free agency.
Making sure Trevor Lawrence has a good offensive line is one of the Jaguars’ top priorities this offseason and Norwell has shown he can play hold his own. Signing him would help them check another box but it’s uncertain if they can strike a new deal before free agency.