The 2022 offseason for the Commanders has, so far, been defined by the trade the team struck with Indianapolis for quarterback Carson Wentz. Since agreeing to that deal, Washington has been relatively quiet in free agency outside of retaining a few key contributors such as J.D. McKissic, Bobby McCain and Cam Sims, among others.
However, Washington's biggest outside signing came at a major position of need: guard. Five-time Pro Bowler Brandon Scherff left Washington for Jacksonville on the first day of free agency. Two days later, the Commanders released its other starting guard from a year ago, Ereck Flowers, as part of a salary crunch.
With a sudden need at guard, head coach Ron Rivera reached out to a familiar face. And by Thursday, the team had a new left guard, Andrew Norwell, who signed a two-year deal with Washington.
Norwell met with local media on Zoom on Wednesday for the first time since signing with the Commanders. He's stoked to be back working with Rivera and offensive line coach John Matsko.
"I'm fired up to be a Commander," Norwell said. "I'm just looking forward to this opportunity."
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Norwell, 30, got his NFL start as an undrafted free agent under Rivera in Carolina. From 2014-2017, Norwell started 55 games for the Panthers, rising from an undrafted player all the way to a first-team All-Pro selection his final year with the Panthers. In 2018, Norwell signed a five-year deal with the Jaguars in free agency, a contract that made him the NFL's highest-paid guard at the time.
After four years with the Jaguars, Norwell hit the free agent market once again this offseason. The 30-year-old said he had multiple teams inquire about his services, but his familiarity with Rivera and Matsko were key components in signing with the Commanders over another club.
"It's really big," Norwell said. "Being familiar with the coaching, being able to go in Day 1 and start those relationships again, build them even stronger and contribute to this team, I'm just fired up about it and looking forward to it."
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The guard then expanded further as to why when Rivera came calling about a reunion, it was a no-brainer of a decision.
"Their consistency. The way coach treats his players. He's very, very consistent," Norwell said on what drew him back to Rivera. "He gives everybody an opportunity. He gave me an opportunity when I was a rookie and I'm very fortunate that I made the most out of that opportunity. I'm excited to be back."
The appreciation for one another is mutual, too. Last Thursday, shortly after the move had been announced, Rivera spoke glowingly about the left guard who he coached for four years in Carolina.
"He's a very smart, crafty football player," Rivera said. "The thing I loved about Andrew was he was an undrafted free agent, but that didn't deter him from becoming who he is today as a football player. He's a physical player, a smart football player. He's a guy that I think his teammates are going to find very loyal as well. It's exciting to have a young man like that back on our football team."
The plan for Norwell is to play left guard for the Commanders, the primary position he's played throughout the first eight seasons of his career. Veteran Wes Schweitzer is expected to start at right guard, with rising third-year pro Saahdiq Charles as the primary backup.
Norwell later added that several members of the offensive line have already reached out to him since he signed with the Commanders last Thursday. Norwell called the unit a "great group of guys" and he's already looking forward to OTAs when he first gets to work alongside his new teammates.
"I'm fired up about it. I can't wait to get to work," he said. "This is going to be an awesome experience."