Big people beat up little people.
It’s a mantra of football. If you can win up front on both sides of the ball, everything else will work itself out.
Jaguars personnel chief Tom Coughlin executed this philosophy in the early hours of the legal tampering window in free agency.
Jacksonville allowed free-agent receiver Allen Robinson to head to Chicago, but made sure the offense would still get a boost of talent.
The Jaguars have reached an agreement with free-agent left guard Andrew Norwell, according to ESPN.
The 26-year-old Norwell was named a first-team All-Pro selection last season in Carolina and was widely considered the best offensive lineman in free agency. According to Pro Football Focus, Norwell did not allow a sack or a hit on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton last season.
The deal is reportedly for five years and worth $66.5 million with $30 million guaranteed. That would make Norwell the NFL’s highest paid guard.
“He is such a great team player,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said after Norwell was named All-Pro. “A big part of it is who he is as a young man, how hard he works, his dedication. He takes coaching very, very well. He takes constructive criticism very well. He applies it and improves himself. … He is a heck of a football player.”
The 6-foot-6, 316-pound Norwell started 54 games for the Panthers in his four seasons (including every game the last two years) after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State. He also has six playoff starts on his resume, including one in the Super Bowl.
Now, Norwell can continue to blossom under Jaguars coach Doug Marrone (a former offensive line coach) and respected offensive line coach Pat Flaherty, who won two Super Bowls with Coughlin in New York.
Look at the Jaguars trenches.
The defensive front throws this at opponents: End Calais Campbell, tackle Malik Jackson, tackle Marcell Dareus, end Yannick Ngakoue, with end Dante Fowler and tackle Abry Jones as well.
The offensive line now has its own formidable quartet in Norwell, center Brandon Linder, left tackle Cam Robinson and right tackle Jermey Parnell.
Leadership could also be a reason for this move as well as Norwell’s talent. The Jaguars defensive line has a surplus of leadership.
The offensive line didn’t seem to last season. The Jaguars did lead the NFL in rushing and allowed the fewest sacks (24) in franchise history, but there was no vocal leader.
Linder and Parnell just don’t seem interested in that role, despite Linder being a team captain. Cam Robinson wasn’t going to be able to be that guy as a rookie. Guards A.J. Cann and Patrick Omameh weren’t good enough to be the mayor of the offensive line room.
Perhaps Norwell can bring a dose of what Campbell did last year in his first season with the team.
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