Andrew Norwell

Commanders Release G Andrew Norwell

As expected, the Commanders have moved on from Andrew Norwell. The team announced on Monday that the veteran guard has been released.

Washington placed Norwell on the reserve/PUP list in May, a move which seemed to signal the end of his time in the nation’s capital once he passed a physical. After dealing with an elbow injury during the spring, the 31-year-old has presumably done so given his release is now official.

Norwell spent only one season in Washington after four years each in Carolina and Jacksonville. The Jaguars removed one year from his deal in 2021, allowing him to hit the open market last offseason. That paved the way for a two-year, $10MM Commanders contract. Parting ways with him halfway through that pact will yield $4.38MM in cap savings for Washington via a post-June 1 cut.

The Ohio State alum started at left guard for each of his 16 games played last year, drawing his worst PFF evaluation to date. That helped inform the team’s decision to look elsewhere at the position. Saahdiq Charles and Chris Paul are set to compete for the first-team LG role during camp, and the Commanders have a number of other, new, faces in place along their offensive front to evaluate.

Norwell, who has started all but one of his 128 career games, will now look to latch onto a roster as training camps open up around the league. Teams are always on the lookout for experienced contributors when filling out depth charts, and, if healthy, he should be able to generate a market on a short-term, low-cost deal in a bid to rebuild his free agent value. Washington, meanwhile, will move forward with added financial flexibility and a clearer picture of its interior O-line situation.

Commanders Cut CB Cameron Dantzler, Expected To Release G Andrew Norwell

The Commanders claimed Cameron Dantzler off waivers from the Vikings in March, but the NFC East team will end this partnership. Washington announced Tuesday that Dantzler will be cut.

Not yet a vested veteran, the fourth-year cornerback will head back to the waiver wire. Washington has also announced the placement of guard Andrew Norwell on the reserve/PUP list. Norwell started 16 games for the Commanders last season. This designation is expected to precede a release, per’s Tom Pelissero, who notes the team is planning to cut the veteran guard once he passes a physical (Twitter link).

Washington signed Norwell last year, giving the ex-Ron Rivera Panthers starter a two-year, $10MM deal with $4.7MM guaranteed. The Commanders can gain $4.38MM in cap space by releasing Norwell after June 1. Norwell, who also joined ex-Rivera charge Trai Turner on Washington’s O-line last season, has played nine NFL seasons. Turner is no longer on Washington’s roster.

Rivera said last month the team is planning to give Saahdiq Charles and Chris Paul opportunities to win the left guard job, which Norwell held until Week 18. Norwell played every offensive snap until Washington’s season finale, sitting out Sam Howell‘s debut due to a hip injury. Rather than the hip malady, ESPN’s John Keim notes Norwell is battling a right elbow issue.

The Jaguars gave Norwell a five-year, $66.5MM contract in 2018. He had accepted a pay cut in 2021, with that agreement removing a year from his contract. The Commanders gave Norwell a chance in 2022, after they lost Brandon Scherff to the Jags in free agency. Pro Football Focus slotted Norwell just inside the top 50 at guard last season. While that middle-of-the-pack placement could be considered respectable, it marked his worst career assessment from the advanced metrics site. PFF graded Norwell as a top-30 guard every season from 2014-20.

The Commanders’ offseason approach has likely contributed to Norwell’s impending exit. They signed O-linemen Nick Gates and Andrew Wylie in free agency. While the early plan was for Gates to return to center, where he had lined up in New York before a severe injury sustained in Washington in September 2021, the Commanders also chose interior O-linemen Ricky Stromberg in Round 3. Veteran Tyler Larsen also remains on Washington’s roster. Norwell could be appealing to other teams as a stopgap option, with 127 starts on his resume. This is assuming he surmounts the hip issue soon.

Since claiming Dantzler in March, the Commanders have been busy at corner. The team used its top two draft choices on corners, taking Emmanuel Forbes in Round 1 and Jartavius Martin in Round 2. Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste remain in place as the team’s top veteran options at the position. Dantzler missed part of last season with a hamstring injury but started nine games for the Vikings in 2022. Overall, the former third-round pick started 26 with Minnesota.

Commanders HC Ron Rivera On LG Competition

Last March, the Commanders signed Andrew Norwell to a two-year, $10MM contract and installed him as their starting left guard. Aside from the last game of the season, Norwell played every offensive snap for Washington in 2022, but his roster spot could be in jeopardy.

When recently asked about his club’s LG competition, head coach Ron Rivera said he expects a real battle between fourth-year pro Saahdiq Charles and second-year blocker Chris Paul (Twitter link via JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington). As for Norwell, Rivera simply said, “he’s going to be there.”

That is hardly a strong vote of confidence for a player who was brought in as a worthy replacement for Brandon Scherff, who defected to the Jaguars in free agency last year after a brilliant seven-year tenure with Washington that included five Pro Bowl bids and one First Team All-Pro designation. Unfortunately for Norwell, his performance in his first year with the Commanders was not especially compelling.

After earning First Team All-Pro acclaim himself in 2017, his final season with the Panthers, Norwell secured a then-record contract with Jacksonville, and his play in Duval County, while generally solid, did not necessarily match the club’s financial commitment. In 2022, Norwell received a 59.8 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, which was the lowest mark of his nine-year career and which positioned him as the 47th-best guard out of 76 qualifiers. He was charged with five penalties and 29 total pressures allowed, including four sacks.

Still, his 127 career starts are unrivaled by Charles, who has taken all of 61 snaps at left guard in his three-year career, and Paul, a 2022 seventh-rounder whose only action of his rookie campaign came in the Week 18 contest that Norwell sat out. So it stands to reason that Washington would keep Norwell around at least long enough to see if the Charles-Paul battle yields promising results, or if running it back with Norwell is a better solution for a team that could be deploying a largely inexperienced Sam Howell at quarterback.

However, if Charles and/or Paul should prove themselves capable of a starting role in spring workouts and training camp, Norwell’s contract could work against him. Due to the void years that were tacked onto the end of his deal, releasing Norwell prior to June 1 would create $2.8MM in dead money versus a savings of only $2.3MM. A post-June 1 release, though, would create savings of $4.4MM on the 2023 ledger against just $700K in dead money.

If Rivera’s comments are any indication, Norwell may find himself a cap casualty this summer.

Contract Details: Miller, Robinson, Reddick, Mariota, Jensen, Collins, Brown, Norwell

Here are the latest details from contracts recently agreed to across the league, starting with the Bills’ big-ticket deal for a future Hall of Fame edge rusher:

  • Von Miller, LB (Bills): Six years, $120MM. Miller’s deal includes $51.44MM guaranteed. The Bills will keep Miller’s early base salaries low; he is tied to $1.1MM (2022) and $1.3MM (’23) salaries, Aaron Wilson of tweets. Miller has a $13.34MM roster bonus due in 2023, and Albert Breer of tweets his deal includes $50MM over the first two years. His $17.1MM, $19.6MM and $29.6MM salaries from 2025-27 are nonguaranteed.
  • Allen Robinson, WR (Rams): Three years, $46.5MM. Robinson is attached to guaranteed base salaries of $1.5MM and $10MM in 2022 and ’23, respectively, per Wilson (on Twitter). The contract includes a $5.75MM roster bonus on Day 5 of the 2024 league year. If Robinson surpasses 2,200 receiving yards in the regular season and playoffs during the 2022 or ’23 seasons, Wilson adds his 2024 year will void (Twitter link). Only Cooper Kupp has accomplished that feat in a season.
  • Haason Reddick, DE (Eagles): Three years, $45MM. Reddick, who is guaranteed $30MM, is tethered to base salaries of just $1MM and $1.1MM in 2022 and 2023, per Wilson (on Twitter). His $13.75MM 2024 salary is nonguaranteed. The Eagles tacked three void years onto the deal for cap purposes. Reddick will collect a $13.7MM roster bonus in 2023.
  • Ryan Jensen, C (Buccaneers): Three years, $39MM. Jensen’s deal includes $26.5MM guaranteed. The Bucs center is tied to a $1.5MM base salary in 2022 and a $12.5MM base in 2023, Wilson tweets. Jensen’s 2023 salary is partially guaranteed at signing; it will become fully guaranteed if he is on Tampa Bay’s roster by Day 5 of the 2023 league year. A $1.5MM 2024 roster bonus resides in this deal as well. The Bucs included two void years here for cap purposes.
  • La’el Collins, T (Bengals): Three years, $30MM. The contract is closer to a two-year, $20MM pact, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, with Year 3 being included for cap purposes (Twitter link). It appears Cincinnati has dipped into the void-year realm, though is not clear just yet how this contract is structured.
  • Marcus Mariota, QB (Falcons): Two years, $18.75MM. This deal veers closer to a one-year pact. Mariota is due $6.75MM in 2022, but’s Tom Pelissero notes (on Twitter) a $12MM 2023 option is included in this contract. A key point for Mariota’s Atlanta future will arrive on Day 5 of the 2023 league year, when a $3MM roster bonus is due.
  • Trent Brown, T (Patriots): Two years, $13MM. Brown will see $4MM guaranteed, Pelissero tweets. The veteran right tackle can earn up to $22MM on the contract.
  • Andrew Norwell, G (Commanders): Two years, $10MM. Norwell will collect $5.7MM guaranteed, Wilson tweets. He is set to earn $1.2MM and $3.54MM in base salary, with Wilson adding Washington added three void years onto this deal.

Commanders Expected To Sign Andrew Norwell

The Commanders look to be adding a significant piece to their offensive line. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, they are “close” to signing guard Andrew Norwell (Twitter link). An update from ESPN’s John Keim (on Twitter) adds that Norwell “has agreed to the deal”, the terms of which are not yet know. 

[RELATED: J.D. McKissic Staying In Washington]

Norwell, 30, began his career in Carolina in 2014. He was a full-time starter during that period, which overlapped with current Commanders head coach Ron Rivera‘s time in charge of the Panthers. He saved his best year for last in Charlotte, earning Pro Bowl and All Pro honors.

That earned him a lucrative second contract. The former Buckeye signed a five-year, $66.5MM deal with the Jaguars in 2018. While his play has been consistent in Jacksonville, it hasn’t reached the level of that 2017 campaign, at least from an analytical perspective. Norwell earned a solid 70.5 PFF grade in his first year in Duval County, but has been rated in the mid-60s ever since.

That makes it unsurprising that the Jaguars would allow the former UDFA to head elsewhere in free agency. After making $9MM in salary and carrying a cap charge of $15MM in 2021, Norwell became less of a priority on the interior of their o-line after the addition of Washington standout Brandon Scherff. It now appears that the Commanders have reciprocated that move by adding Norwell.

Jaguars Looking At OL Ekwonu With Top Pick

We wrote a bit in January about NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu potentially being the best offensive lineman in the draft. Well, he certainly thinks so, as he told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine Thursday that he’d “definitely deserve” to be drafted No. 1 overall, according to Darryl Slater of

He’s not totally off base in his thinking. ESPN’s Mel Kiper mocked Ekwonu to Jacksonville in his latest mock draft just before the Combine. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, many at the Combine, including ESPN’s Todd McShay, expected Ekwonu to blow up in Indianapolis.

There’s already been a bit of talk connecting Ekwonu to the Jaguars. General manager Trent Baalke has a tendency to prefer explosive linemen and Ekwonu demonstrated his explosiveness in field drills including an impressive sub-5.00 second 40-yard dash. Baalke and new head coach Doug Pederson will be looking to put together a group at offensive line that can protect former No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence and create holes for running backs James Robinson and Travis Etienne.

Jawaan Taylor is expected to compete with Walker Little for the right tackle job. Captain Brandon Linder should return to form at center after MCL and ankle injuries forced him to miss a large part of the 2021 NFL season. Andrew Norwell is expected to hit the free agent market and Cam Robinson could join him if the team decides not to utilize their franchise tag on Robinson for the second straight year. Veteran sixth-man Tyler Shatley was recently re-signed and Ben Bartch could help out at guard. So the versatility of Ekwonu could line him up as the perfect choice for Jacksonville’s current situation, where lots of question marks surround the depth chart. Even so, the Jaguars could also fall in love with Evan Neal, who is largely seen as the top pure tackle in the draft.

Still, the redshirt sophomore out of Raleigh is a young, talented prospect with the ability to dominate at tackle or guard. Even if he slips past Jacksonville at No. 1 overall, don’t expect him to be available after both New York teams get a chance to draft. Ekwonu will aim to be only the third Wolfpack offensive lineman in history to be picked in the first round, the highest-drafted Wolfpack prospect since Bradley Chubb in 2018, and, above that, the first top overall pick out of NC State since Mario Williams in 2006.

Panthers Expected To Let Matt Paradis Depart In Free Agency; Latest On FA Plans

As Joseph Person of The Athletic (subscription required) writes, the Panthers are likely to part ways with center Matt Paradis, who is eligible for free agency. Pat Elflein, who opened the 2021 season as Carolina’s left guard but who moved over to center following Paradis’ injury, is likely to continue as the starting pivot despite his struggles in that role.

Paradis, 32, signed a three-year, $27MM contract with the Panthers in March 2019, and he started every game for the club from Week 1 of the 2019 season through Week 9 of the 2021 campaign. Unfortunately, a torn ACL suffered in that Week 9 contest ended his walk year prematurely, and it leaves him in a less-than-desirable position as he hits the open market for the second time in his career (interestingly, when he hooked on with the Panthers in 2019, he was coming off a serious leg injury that he sustained in November 2018, which may have limited his earnings then in the same way that his recent ACL tear will limit his earnings now).

Still, given his track record as a solid starter and the fact that he has been quite durable except when he’s playing out a contract year, he should garner a fair amount of attention from teams in need of a center. The Bengals, Jets, and Jaguars are all rumored to be interested in Bucs center Ryan Jensen, and Tampa Bay wants to retain its four-year starter. The losers of the Jensen sweepstakes could turn to Paradis, and the Ravens, who may be unable to afford a new contract for Bradley Bozeman, could also be in play.

The Panthers, meanwhile, will have plenty of work to do on the O-line. Luckily for them, this year’s college class is deep at the LT position, and Carolina could net a high-quality prospect even if it trades down from its No. 6 overall selection. In a separate piece (subscription required), Person opines that the Panthers will not be in the market for a high-priced free agent like longtime division-rival Terron Armstead, so the draft would be the place to nab a blindside blocker. Person does expect the team to sign a free agent guard, and while Brandon Scherff and Laken Tomlinson may be too pricey, old friend Andrew Norwell or Bears OL James Daniels could be viable targets.

In related news, Person says the Panthers do want edge defender Haason Reddick back, but only if the price is right. We recently heard that Reddick is likely to test the open market for the second year in a row. And while the club has not shut the door on a new contract for CB Stephon Gilmore, Person hears that the team is prioritizing a deal with fellow corner Donte Jackson, who is five years younger than Gilmore (both players are also eligible for free agency). GM Scott Fitterer is also doing his due diligence on available safeties.

Finally, the Panthers reportedly want to re-sign K Zane Gonzalez and may be eyeing P Pat O’Donnell as a replacement for Lachlan Edwards.

Will Jags’ Tag Cam Robinson Again?

Almost five years ago, the Jaguars drafted Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson. Seen by many as a potential first rounder, Robinson fell to the Jaguars’ second-round pick with some red flags from a previous arrest and some injury issues that held him out of the Combine and parts of his Pro Day. 

Robinson immediately earned the starting left tackle position as a rookie and started 15 games in 2017. After suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 of the 2018 NFL season, Robinson missed the rest of his sophomore year in the league.

Once his rookie contract expired at the end of the 2020 season, it was rumored the Jaguars were going to allow Robinson to test the free agent market. Robinson was certainly not considered a top 5 offensive tackle, so tagging him and paying him the average salary of the top 5 players at his position seemed like a fairly large stretch. But with a lack of options to replace the young tackle and the price tag of what few options were available, the Jaguars bit the bullet and paid Robinson.

Now, a year later, Jacksonville is faced with a similar issue: Do they tag Robinson for a second straight year or trust the options available to them this year?

Tagging Robinson is a simple option. On the upside, it secures three sure starters for the 2022 season on the offensive line, they know exactly what it will cost them, and, while he wasn’t quite a top 5 offensive tackle, Robinson played the best football of his career this past season. The downside is that, when you tag a player two years in a row, you don’t pay the average of the top 5 players of the position in Year 2, you pay 120% of the previous year’s salary. With Robinson’s salary last year paying him $13.75MM, a 20% raise would net him $16.5MM in 2022.

If the Jaguars decide to let Robinson walk, they’re not bereft of options. Internally, they did draft Walker Little in the second round last year and saw him start three games in limited time this season. If they think Little can play up to or near the level of play of Robinson, he would be a much cheaper option. The Jaguars also hold the number one pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. Many mock drafts have seen fellow Alabama-alum Evan Neal mocked as the top draft pick, but few see Neal as a true homerun pick at the top of the draft.

There’s lots of work to be done on the Jaguars’ offensive line, and new offensive line coach Phil Rauscher will likely have a say in the game plan. Jawaan Taylor has started every game since being drafted in 2019 and is expected to start at right tackle. Veteran and captain Brandon Linder should return to form after MCL and ankle injuries forced him to miss a large part of the 2021 season. Tagging Robinson would secure another tackle position and leave the guards as the only questions. With Andrew Norwell expected to hit the free agent market, Ben Bartch could fill one of the open guard positions, but the other would be open to either an unproven back up or a rookie.

Regardless of where it comes from, Robinson’s next paycheck is expected to be a large one. If the Jaguars decide not to tag or extend him, a team hungry for offensive line help is sure to take a flier and pay out for the 26-year-old tackle.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/1/22

Here are the New Year’s Day activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: G Oli Udoh

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: CB Bryce Hall

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Jaguars’ Andrew Norwell Takes Pay Cut

Andrew Norwell is staying put. On Monday, the veteran guard agreed to restructure his existing contract into a one-year deal with $9MM fully guaranteed (Twitter link via’s Adam Schefter). Through bonuses, Norwell can earn up to $12MM in 2021. 

Norwell earned first-team All-Pro honors with the Panthers, paving the way to a five-year, $66.5MM Jaguars deal in 2018. At the time, the deal made him the highest paid guard in the league.

He hasn’t reprised that performance yet, leading the Jaguars to shop him this offseason. There were no takers for the remainder of that deal, so the two sides went to the bargaining table. Norwell will give the Jaguars some relief and, in exchange, he’ll get to hit the open market one year earlier.

Norwell was limited to eleven games in 2018 as he dealt with an ankle injury. On the plus side, he’s been mostly healthy over the last two years. He played/started 16 games in 2019 and missed only three games last year.

The restructuring takes one item off of the Jaguars’ to-do list, freeing them to shop for other needs, including running back.