There’s a growing belief that new general manager for the New York Giants, Dave Gettleman, is looking heavily into Carolina Panthers guard Andrew Norwell. The once undrafted free agent was selected by Gettleman to battle for a starting role on the offensive line in 2014. Four years later, he’s set to become the highest paid guard in the history of the NFL.
When can the Giants sign him?
March 14th will be the day free agency opens, and you can be sure the Giants will be fending off a market of competitors for Norwell’s services. In the situation, it might just come down to who’s willing to pay the most for the All-Pro guard.
In 2017, the Cleveland Browns signed Kevin Zeitler to a 5-year, $60 million deal. He’s making $12 million per-season. Norwell should get even more in today’s market, which will likely see him in the $13 million per-season range.
A likely contract would be five-years, $65 million with $35-40 million guaranteed. That’s about half of the Giants’ current cap space ($23.6 million.) The remaining cap would have to spent sparingly, unless they back-load the contract beyond Eli Manning’s deal.
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) February 27, 2018
Overall, the investment would be an upgrade at guard over Justin Pugh, and it would add unquestionably adequate talent to the offensive line. The issue is: There wouldn’t be much cap-space to help at tackle, which means Gettleman would have to address it through the draft.
Norwell is clearly the best guard in free agency, and he will earn his worth. Speaking of his worth, he’s one of the league’s best run and pass blocker, not allowing a single sack or penalty in 2017. He earned an 88.8 Pro Football Focus grade which was third among guards in the league.
The fact that defensive tackles these days are getting to the quarterback faster than ever makes the guard position a necessity. Paying big-bucks to stop guys like Aaron Donald and Gerald McCoy is on the minds of every NFL team right now, and the market for offensive lineman is forever shrinking. This will bode well for players like Norwell, Pugh, and even D.J. Fluker.