The Carolina Panthers, coming off a playoff berth, are unlikely to bring back one of their key offensive lineman.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network is reporting that the Carolina Panthers are unlikely to utilize the franchise tag on guard Andrew Norwell. According to Rapoport, the team will instead place the tag on kicker Graham Gano.
Rapoport put some numbers into context with the next tweet about Norwell.
One issue facing Carolina is the contract that fellow guard Trai Turner has. Last offseason the Panthers made Turner one of the higher-paid guards in the NFL with a four year, $45 million extension. That contract, plus the expected tag number for Norwell, would have Carolina spending more than any other team on the guard position by a wide margin.
As Rapoport said in the second tweet, it is a great situation for Norwell. The former undrafted free agent out of Ohio State has turned into one of the best guards in the entire NFL. Carolina plugged him into the starting lineup in 2015 and he has not looked back. This past season he was named a First-Team All-Pro. Great timing given his current contract situation.
Last year’s top guard Kevin Zeiter signed a five-year, $60 million deal with the Browns. Norwell is likely looking for a similar payday from teams.
Norwell will likely have interest from half of the league. Teams with money to spend include the San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans would make the most sense. All five of those could use an upgrade at guard. Of the bunch, Houston has the least amount of draft picks. That could make it more aggressive in pitching the free agent.