- Jacksonville rode their run game to the AFC title game last season, and signing Andrew Norwell will only reinforce its strength.
On Monday afternoon one NFL GM thought that there were two teams still in the Andrew Norwell sweepstakes: the 49ers and Giants. It was known that the Panthers couldn’t retain Norwell, and many assumed Norwell was bound for New York to reunite with Dave Gettleman, the former Panthers GM who signed him in free agency after he went undrafted in 2014.
But the Jaguars turned up as the surprise suitors for Norwell, signing the consistent left guard to a five-year deal worth up to $66.5 million, according to reports. The deal includes $30 million in fully guaranteed money.
Norwell immediately solidifies the left side of the Jacksonville line that already had Cam Robinson at left tackle. Now Blake Bortles blindside will be well protected but, far more importantly for these Jags, they’ll run the ball even more in 2018 and beyond.
Jacksonville led the league in rushing attempts (527) and yards (2,262) in 2017 en route to the AFC title game. The Jaguars even had a postseason-high 101 rushing yards, and the second-place Eagles, who obviously played an extra game, only had 89. Norwell’s signing in Jacksonville signals a further commitment a ground attack that covers up all the passing warts (and losing Allen Robinson in free agency only adds to that, though the Jags will surely address that position in the coming weeks).
Was left guard the most pressing need in Jacksonville? Of course not, and certainly not when considering agent Drew Rosenhaus negotiated the highest average-per-year salary of any offensive lineman for Norwell. But the Jaguars are committed to rushing the ball back to the AFC title game, and Norwell is a huge part of that formula.