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Norwell Solves “Forever” Problem at Left Guard

Norwell Solves “Forever” Problem at Left Guard

guard

I’m supposed to guard YOU? First, let me notify my next of kin!

Miami Has A “FOREVER” Issue At Left Guard

Left Guard! We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again and again if we must! We can trade for one. We can draft one. Or we can hire an Unrestricted Free Agent. Whatever we do, Miami absolutely, unambiguously, incontrovertably must obtain an NFL caliber starting Left Guard during this off-season. As PhinsNews previously pointed out, we have no one currently under contract that can fill that need …zip, nada, zero! Not a single LG who can protect the QB, open lanes for the RB, pull or get to the 2nd level when the play requires it.

Andrew Norwell, Pro-Bowl LG, is an Unrestricted Free Agent

Norwell

Andrew Norwell, 2018 Pro Bowl First team

Norwell is currently the starting Left Guard for the Carolina Panthers. He’s a 26 year old, 6’6″, 325 lb NFL First-Team All-Pro coming off a truly dominant 2017 season. Pro Football Focus (PFF) named him to their First-Team All-Pro Honors list. Here’s why:

  • PFF Overall 2017 Grade: 88.7 (that’s ‘Elite’ territory, #3 among all OGs)
  • Among OGs (170+ pass-blocks), 2nd in pass-blocking efficiency at 98.3
  • 8th best run blocker among all OGs with a PFF grade of 83.4
  • The only OG in 2018 to not commit a single penalty (500+ snaps).
  • Moreover, there were Zero penalties committed in a total of 903 snaps.
  • In addition, he didn’t allow a single sack all season in 2017
  • Again, the only OG (200+ pass-blocks) to not allow even a single hit, one of only four OGs to achieve this feat since PFF started collecting data back in 2006

Norwell: zero penalties, zero hits, zero sacks allowed!

That’s nothing short of an unbelievable streak, especially for penalty ridden Phins fans. Since taking over the starting job last season, he has earned a reputation for proper technique, fundamentals, and the ability to execute play-in and play-out. Especially hard to believe of a player who wasn’t even drafted …yes, that’s right …he was a UDFA!

Doubts? Just take a quick look at this 2017 highlights tape.

So How Could a Prize LG like Norwell hit Free Agency?

One word …CAP. The Panthers already have a ton of money, more than $27 mil, invested in their offensive line. The Panthers signed both right guard Trai Turner and left tackle Matt Kalil to big contracts in 2017. Because of this, the Panthers could have limited cap space of less than 14 mil to work with. They need $8-10 mil just to sign their top 3 draft picks. They could ‘tag’ Norwell but that would break the CAP bank. Even a ‘transition tag’ would cost more than $10 mil per year. Spotrac.com has Norwell’s ‘market value’ at $11.8 mil per year. The Charlotte Observer believes the Panthers are in danger of losing Norwell to free agency. He will very likely draw a lot of interest if he hits free agency.

Can Miami Sign Norwell in Free Agency?

Of course they can. But the pay per head sites wonder, will they even try is the real question. Keep in mind that Miami bailed on the high end OG market last year. Instead, they signed Ted Larsen (PFF grade 39.4, ranked 68th best OG) for less than $2 mil. Similarly, they waited until the 5th round to draft Asiata. He was a ‘steal’ who hardly even dressed for a game, much less played in one, even though we were desperate at OG. Thus, we got what we paid for.

Miami has to want to really fix it!

First, the Dolphins FO and HC Gase have to make up their minds to finally fix the ‘forever’ issue at LG. They can get a high caliber LG through either FA or the Draft …or they can go the ‘cheap’ route again and let the next FO and HC fix it. If they want to be here in ’19 they will choose to fix NOW. Free Agency better mean full press for Norwell. But he will cost north of $11 mil per year …and we could easily get outbid.

Norwell won’t necessarily go to the high bidder

There is always a Cleveland with $100 mil+ CAP space willing to pay Zeitler’esque money for someone like Norwell. But they run into a problem when the FA wants to play for a credible contender, not another rebuild …as Norwell has intimated. Miami doesn’t have to be the high bidder to win, just the high bidder among the credible teams. It matters that Drew Rosenhaus is Norwell’s new agent. He knows Miami well …whether that is good or bad remains to be seen.

Miami has the flexibility to drastically improve it’s CAP space

Second, Miami has to solve it’s own CAP issues. The Dolphins CAP numbers are worse  than the Panthers, with less than $10 mil CAP space for 2018. However, Miami’s numbers are very flexible compared to Carolina’s. Consider just the OL. Where Carolina has $27 mil committed, most in new, inflexible contracts, Miami has $26 mil committed but in very flexible contracts. $18 mil is in the James and Pouncey contracts alone with another $2 mil in Larsen’s. James, Pouncey, and Larsen all performed well below their contracts in 2017 and could be cut or renegotiated downward. Many CAP gurus have calculated that Miami could clear as much as $60 mil in CAP space team wide without serious difficulty.

There’s a gorilla in the CAP closet

The gorilla is Landry’s FA contract. I expect to see him re-signed in the neighborhood of $13.8 mill per year average with a sizeable guarantee. Once that is done, everything else will fall into place.

Better to Sign Norwell, Draft Nelson or pull a rabbit out of the hat?

Signing Norwell, if we can, will cost upwards of $12 mil per year average. Above all, he would provide an immediate, proven pro-bowl caliber LG just entering his prime. He’s as close to a ‘sure thing’ as anything in the NFL will ever be. A not insignificant point is that acquiring Norwell in FA would give Miami a lot more flexibility in the draft.

On the other hand, there are probably three OGs in the 1-2 rounds of the draft that could address the LG issues with fairly high confidence level. Nelson would be as close to a ‘sure thing’ as you can get in the draft …but almost 50% of those 1st round ‘sure things’ fail in any given year. Ryan Leaf and Dion Jordan come to mind. The Smith trade puts Cousins in FA and could mean that a QB/OL needy team like Denver will draft Nelson ahead of us, instead of a QB.

There are other options …just not reasonably ‘sure things’

The other two viable LG candidates, in the top of the draft, are Price and Hernandez. They could easily go low 1st or high 2nd. Neither would be a candidate at #11 and neither looks to have Nelson’s ceiling. That said, they are worthwhile gambles if the LG issue is not solved before their names are on the board. Price would almost certainly imply a Miami trade down out of #11 since he likely won’t be there in the 2nd.

I’ve made my case for Norwell in FA. There are many that will still believe a LG can be had by this FO in the draft’s later rounds. You are right, they can. But it takes serious luck AND talent evaluation skill working together. And I’m not sure this FO has it, not after Asiata.

What do the rest of the PhinsNews readers think?


 

 

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17 comments

  • Steve

    Norwell will give the Dolphins more leverage in the draft to trade back.

    Trade back is what we want this draft. This team can snatched 2 players from the second and 2 from the 3rd round and 2 or 3 from the 4th round.

    We can possibly draft 6 starters for sure.

    ;xxxxxxxxxx
    I’m for trading back in the 1st and 2 rounds for more picks.

    • admin

      I’m more and more… and more inclined to the trade back now, Steve. IF a QB is at #11 is would be the perfect opportunity… but it would take balls of steel to do it as the fans might go ballistic.

  • Jordy

    For starters, let Jarvis Landry go and save the 13.5 million. Use the cap room to sign a stud LG. Also, let Cameron Wake and his 8 million per year go. They just drafted Charles Harris who showed promised in limited action. Harris needs playing time! Moreover, they have Andre Branch and despite his poor play last year, it bears noting he was injured. Also, the have Terrence Fede and can easily bring back William Haynes for 4-4.5 million.

    Miami needs to learn to cut veterans–especially when you have someone younger that is more than capable of putting up the same–or better–number. Jason Taylor just said he thinks “Charles Harris is a Future Hall of Famer.” Furthermore, Miami needs to add two above average Tight Ends. They can draft one in the 2nd or 3rd round–but they should vigorously pursue TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (only 26) in free agency. Whatever the case, for the money Landry would make on Miami, Miami could sign Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and add a young linebacker like Marquis Flowers(250LB, 6-3 and has showed the athleticism and quickness to cover TEs, RBs and even some slot receivers. Do you people really think Kiko Alonso can cover? Kiko Alonso should be a reserve LB that only plays on special teams, save for an injury. Cut him next off season (2019).

    • Jordy

      Correction: The money they’d save from cutting Wake would allow Miami to sign Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Marquis Flowers. And the 13.5 million that Landry wants could go towards signing LG Andrew Norwell. (LT James is not coming back too, so there’s 9 plus million to spend towards another area).

      • admin

        Jordy… I hate to agree as Landry is one of my favorites… but his antics before the season and during soured my attachment. Still think he is great, but between him and Ajayi whining on the sideline and then the blow out at the end… I would rather see Norwell here than Landry. I want leaders to be their best when the chips are down… not helping tear down the machine. James needs to go… waste of a pick… too inconsistent and too oft injured. Kiko has no feel for zone and is not gifted enough athletically to cover man… he’s a MLB and leaning towards a 2 down one at that… if he doesn’t have a magic bounce back season… yup he is bait for the chopping block for sure.

    • admin

      I do like Malveaux as the replacement for Fede… and given his skill set he might just be Hayes light… I’d still bring back Hayes for the right price though. But as I see it, Fede’s replacement is already here.

  • Steve

    Hello Admin and Dol-Fans

    I’m have to go with the Eagle tonight Supper Bowl. I think the Eagle are a well balanced team and the Patriots have problems with a team that can pass/run. The Eagle have the right Starters/backups who can win the big game.

    • admin

      I’m jaded… I just hope so, but through luck and other means things seem to go the Pats way far more often than not. Hope you’re right.

    • Fritz

      I sense an Eagle upset tonight

      • admin

        You’re a genius Fritz! I’m too invested in my hate for the Pats to think clearly with them… you’re a wise man sir!!!

    • admin

      Great call Steve… I always wonder about the special sauce that goes their way. Glad BB decided to make a boneheaded decision!!! It was sweet seeing them fail… terrible on my part…. but it was!!!

  • Steve

    Admin

    I agree we really need to fixed our Offensive Line soon. I’m know expert but it sure appear’s that we must over pay for talent. What i’m asking is how do we developed our players.

    New England Patriots Offensive line playing in 52nd Supper Bowl listed below. Not sure if anyone is breaking the bank.

    Starting Left Guard
    Joe Thuney was drafted by the New England Patriots in the third round (78th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft.

    Backup Left Guard
    Cole Croston was signed by the New England Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 5, 2017.

    Starting Center
    Age 25 6-3 WEIGHT: 295
    David Andrews was signed by the New England Patriots as a rookie free agent on
    3 Years Pro

    Right Guard Starting
    6-1 WEIGHT: 310 AGE24
    Shaquille Mason was drafted by the New England Patriots in the fourth round (131st overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft. 3 year Pro

    Right Guard Backup/Backup Center
    6-4 WEIGHT: 305 AGE 24

    Ted Karras was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round (221st overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft. 2 Years Pro

    Starting left Tackle
    Nate Solder was drafted by the New England Patriots in the first round (17th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft.6-8 WEIGHT: 325– AGE29 ,7 Years Pro

    Back up left Tackle
    6-6 WEIGHT: 315 AGE
    26 5 Years Pro LaAdrian Waddle was claimed off waivers from Detroit and awarded to the New England Patriots on Dec. 16, 2015 .. Originally signed by Detroit as a rookie free agent (5/2/13) … Released by Detroit (12/15/15).

    Starting Right Tackle
    6-6 WEIGHT: 320 AGE25 , 4 Years Pro
    Cameron Fleming was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 4th round (140th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft.

    • admin

      This is an example of a prime-time, top of the line FO.

      Also, this OL is helped tremendously by the system and Brady. We started some moves in this with Steen, Davis, Smith and Young. Not bad at all. BUT… we need a lot more and the regime on teetering on the edge of collapse.

      Pats too picked up a bunch of OL over the years who failed. But they started the trade back and stack and never looked back, so they have been playing money ball for years. Smart… win by the numbers. Heck, Larsen was one of them to get drafted and cut!!! Just look at 2009 alone, they drafted 3…2nd, 4th, 5th… It part of the reason why the Carroo move is soooooo bad.

      The FO did some good things, but too much of the big moves failed. Also, unlike the Pats, we aren’t moving on from players. Although, James might be the start of it. Tunsil must do well. Davis must continue to develop. Asiata needs to drops 10-15 pounds and take the RG spot. Pouncey is a hard call… that’s why getting a leader and vet like Norwell would be key. Without Pouncey there’s no leadership on the line. I do like Eric Smith to develop… but he’s another long shot to start. I’m not a big fan of any other high priced FA as I am of Norwell, so that puts Miami in another bind. LG is such a HUGE hole on this roster… and the Fins don’t seem to adept and finding line talent. Davis was big win, but he might have been cut if not for injuries. Larsen and Bushrod (yrs in a row!) because they didn’t see the rising market is just poor… ohh well Steve.

      • Lemmus

        …so much is in the air right now that affects this …Landry needs to get done one way or the other …I think they will get a deal done but either way, it has to be settled …if Landry moves on, there is CAP to get a pro bowl caliber OG or LB in FA …which in turn, will drive the draft priorities

        …the other ball in play is TH …if his knee is really healed, he will start …if not, he is waived injured and costs only 5.5 mil against the CAP …but then we have to find an immediate FA temp replacement ala Cutler ’17 and then draft a QB to replace the temp

        …if TH is ‘healed’, then the FO/Gase is compelled to look at protecting him …which puts Norwell in play …or not. I’m by no means convinced that this FO/HC has learned anything from last year

      • admin

        Honestly Steve, more and more I watch film on the top 15, the more in agreement I am with you that a trade down is best.

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