The top offensive lineman on the free agent market is headed to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report Tuesday morning that former Carolina Panthers guard Andrew Norwell intends to sign with Jacksonville on a five-year, $66.5 million deal. Norwell’s contract includes $30 million in guarantees. Schefter also notes that Norwell will become the NFL’s highest paid guard, with an average annual salary of $13.3 million a year.
Norwell’s pact with the Jaguars can’t be official till tomorrow, when the start of the NFL’s new league year happens. So far in free agency, the Jaguars have appeared to add Norwell, and lose wide receiver Allen Robinson to the Chicago Bears on a three-year deal. Carolina would’ve liked to re-sign Norwell, but wasn’t comfortable franchise or transition tagging the all-pro lineman at the rate it required.
The writing was likely on the wall that Norwell was set to depart from the Panthers after the two sides didn’t agree to a long-term deal last off-season when Norwell was an exclusive rights free agent. Carolina placed the second-round tender on Norwell, and he ended up playing under that $2.7 million tender in 2017.
According to reports, the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, and the Arizona Cardinals were all reportedly interested in Norwell, with the Giants’ interest probably being the richest of them all. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman was responsible for signing Norwell during his time in Carolina, and wanted Norwell with the Giants for years to come to help rebuild their offensive line in front of Eli Manning.
Instead, Jacksonville landed Norwell, solidifying a big need for interior blocking ahead of quarterback Blake Bortles, who had an improved 2017 season, and star running back Leonard Fournette, who will look to build on a great rookie season in 2018.
Norwell was ranked as the third best free agent on The Game Day Report’s official free agent rankings list.
[twitter-follow screen_name='tony_montalto' show_count='yes']