While newly-signed guard Andrew Norwell will be sliding in for the recently-departed Ereck Flowers on the left side of the Commanders' offensive line, the similarities between Norwell and also-recently-departed Brandon Scherff encourage comparisons between those two players.
To begin, Norwell is coming to Washington after a stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars, while Scherff is leaving the Commanders to begin his stint with the Jaguars. They're like two big, burly ships passing in the free agency night.
In terms of age, meanwhile, Norwell is just two months older than Scherff. Both turned 30 during this past regular season. Norwell, an Ohio State product, entered the NFL a year ahead of Scherff, an Iowa product, so both have ties to the Big Ten.
Each interior lineman's résumé includes an All-Pro nod, too. Norwell earned the designation in 2017, three years before Scherff scored his.
And as the following pair of tweets show, Norwell and Scherff even boast bushy beards. Seriously, their beards are doppelgängers for one another!
However, for Washington, there are two principle differences between the guards that should be quite key.
As dominant as Scherff was with the franchise, he routinely left coaches and fans wanting more due to consistent durability issues. Since joining the franchise in 2015, he suited up for 89 out of a possible 113 regular-season contests (78.8%), meaning he missed 24 starts.
In his career, Norwell has been a more constant presence on the field. He didn't become a starter until Week 7 of his rookie campaign, and since then, he's competed in 111 out of a possible 122 matchups (91%), meaning he's only missed 11 starts.
You don't need a guy with a laptop and a login to this website to tell you this, but that's awfully encouraging.
Furthermore, Norwell doesn't cost nearly as much as Scherff does (in fact, Norwell is also far cheaper than Flowers).
Per The Athletic's Ben Standig, the Commanders' newest guard signed for two years and $10 million (with $4.7 million of that guaranteed). That average annual value of $5 million is less than a third of Scherff's, who landed a deal with an AAV of $16.5 million from Jacksonville. Flowers, by the way, would've had a cap hit of $10 million for Washington this season.
Scherff, when healthy, is a supremely gifted blocker, the kind who generates highlights at a position that rarely gets spotlighted. Flowers is a hell of a player in his own right, a guy who transitioned inside after a failed tenure at tackle and developed into a stout member of the line as well.
But when comparing Norwell — whom Ron Rivera coached in Carolina from 2014 to 2017 — to those two and especially Scherff, the organization might've gotten this one right. A combination of Norwell and Wes Schweitzer (or whoever the team's other starting guard is come September) will be more cost-effective than the Scherff and Flowers duo and, hopefully, equally as productive on Sundays.