JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars will open free agency by adding two offensive pieces and re-signing another.
The Jaguars are poised to sign All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell and speedy receiver Donte Moncrief in free agency Thursday, according to two people familiar with negotiations. The people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Tuesday because NFL teams are prohibited from announcing signings until free agency officially begins Wednesday afternoon.
Norwell is expected to sign a five-year, $66.5 million contract that includes $30 million guaranteed, one of the people said. That would make him one of the highest-paid offensive linemen in the league.
Another person with knowledge of contract talks with receiver Marqise Lee says the team has agreed to terms with Lee on a four-year deal worth $38 million. It includes $18 million guaranteed.
Lee and Moncrief will be counted on to try to fill the void left by losing former Pro Bowl receiver Allen Robinson, who is headed to Chicago. Lee led the Jaguars in receiving in 2017, catching 56 balls for 702 yards and three touchdowns. Moncrief had 26 receptions for 391 yards and two scores with Indianapolis.
Moncrief has the speed to loosen up eight- and nine-man defensive fronts.
The Jaguars made the ground game a priority when coach Doug Marrone and top executive Tom Coughlin took over in January 2017. They selected bruising running back Leonard Fournette and left tackle Cam Robinson in the first two rounds of the NFL draft last year and dedicated the offseason to becoming a more physical team up front. They also made Brandon Linder one of the NFL's highest-paid centers.
Norwell is expected to slide into Jacksonville's offensive line at left guard, between Robinson and Linder. The Jaguars have used five different starters at the position the last two seasons.
Although Jacksonville led the NFL in rushing in 2017, the running game stalled late in the season and barely was a factor in the playoffs. The Jaguars averaged 141.4 yards a game last season, but they topped 100 yards just twice in the final six games.
Norwell should help make Jacksonville's line, especially the left side, one of the best in the AFC.
He was the No. 1 offensive lineman available in free agency, a first-team All-Pro selection who didn't allow a sack or a quarterback hit in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus. He started 45 of 48 games over the past three seasons and helped the Panthers finished fourth, 10th, and second, respectively, in rushing.
Moncrief and Lee have shown big-play ability despite a slew of injuries.
But neither looks like the go-to guy Robinson was expected to be. The Jags likely will end up relying on those two along with promising youngsters Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole and Rashad Greene in 2018.
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