Carolina Panthers offensive guard and former Buckeye Andrew Norwell headed into the offseason as a restricted free agent. The team placed a second-round tender on the guard, worth $2.746 million for the 2017 season, which Norwell signed Monday according to the team.
Carolina’s offense struggled throughout last season, with a big problem being the lack of a run game. Most of the rush attack was placed on quarterback Cam Newton’s shoulders, leaving the team as a whole far less dynamic than they’d been in previous years. Boosting the line with consistently strong players, like Norwell, will set the team up for a much more well-rounded offense next season.
In his third year out of Ohio State, Norwell lined up for 1,108 snaps in 2016 and also finished the year with the highest performance grade (85.7) — the most and best of any Buckeye free agent -- according to Pro Football Focus. Lining up at left guard, Norwell was the only Panther lineman to finish the season in the same spot he started; Carolina’s offensive line suffered so many injuries there was a continual rotation of players and positions.
The guard went undrafted in 2014, but still signed a 3-year, $1.542 million deal with the Panthers. This past season was the first of Norwell’s career in which he was healthy enough to suit up in all 16 regular season games. His snap counts have increased each season, culminating in a career-high 2016 season.
At only 25, there is still a lot of gas left in Norwell’s tank, and he plans on keeping the momentum and snagging a longterm deal next offseason.