The Giants may eventually do other things in free agency, but they've made clear their priority is to sign guard Andrew Norwell first.
Norwell, the 26-year-old former Panthers guard, did attract some strong interest in the first day of the NFL's free agent negotiating period on Monday, and as expected, the Giants were at the forefront, according to a league source. The former undrafted free agent, signed by new Giants GM Dave Gettleman when he was running the show in Carolina, is expected to command a deal worth about $12 million per year.
The Giants, according to a source, are willing to meet his price, but that could go up because there's competition. A league source said the San Francisco 49ers were strong bidders for Norwell's services. There was also buzz about the Arizona Cardinals and possibly Indianapolis Colts getting involved.
The Giants are serious, though, about making the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Norwell the centerpiece of Gettleman's project to "fix" the offensive line. He was a Gettleman favorite in Carolina who was a four-year starter and eventually became an all-pro last season. And Gettleman has made it clear he has no problem paying a high price for a guard in an effort to strengthen the middle of the line.
Norwell very likely will have a new deal in place with someone shortly after the free agent signing period opens at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Until then, multiple NFL sources expect the bidding to be fierce. The Giants are expected to have about $26 million in salary cap space to use, and could end up devoting half of that to Norwell. Their bigger issue is that the 49ers have $64 million in salary cap space, according to Overthecap.com, which means they can overspend if Norwell is a priority for them.
Regardless, the presence of some deep-pocketed competition should net Norwell the largest deal ever given to a guard, topping the five-year, $60 million contract the Cleveland Browns gave Kevin Zeitler last offseason, a deal that included $31.5 million in guarantees.