Sign or Don’t sign: Jerious Norwood’s knee is fine

Running back Jerious Norwood has recovered from his knee injury, according to his agent Bus Cook. (Curtis Compton/Ccompton@ajc.com)

Running back Jerious Norwood has recovered from his knee injury, according to his agent Bus Cook. (Curtis Compton/Ccompton@ajc.com)

For the next few days — while we’re waiting on news from the lockout talks — let’s play a little game: Sign or Don’t Sign. It’s my version of “Deal” or “No Deal” or “Buy” or “Sell.”

It’s a little free agency game to keep us busy while time is becoming of the essence in the labor talks.

Should the Falcons re-sign running back Jerious Norwood?

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The Falcons must immediately address their free agent class when a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

Here’s what the list looks like:

Justin Blalock, left guard, 4 years

Matt Bryant, kicker, 9 years

Tyson Clabo, right tackle, 6 years

Harvey Dahl, right guard,  4 years

Brent Grimes, cornerback, 3 years

Michael Koenen, punter, 6 years

Stephen Nicholas, linebacker, 4 years

Jerious Norwood, running back, 5 years

Michael Peterson, linebacker, 12 years

Jason Snelling, running back, 4 years

Eric Weems, wide receiver, 3 years

First up is the case of running back Jerious Norwood (5-11, 209).  He was drafted in the third round (79th overall) of the 2006 draft.

Norwood flashed his speed and appeared set to have a long career as a third-down back and kickoff return specialist. Former Falcons running backs coach Ollie Wilson said Norwood had the physical skills of Ronnie Harmon, who played 12 years from 1986 to 1997.

Harmon, who made one Pro Bowl, averaged 54.2 catches out of the backfield from 1987 to 1996. Harmon had to be accounted for and was too fast for linebackers to handle in pass coverage.

Over his five seasons with the Falcons, defenses had to respect Norwood’s speed, but after a durable collegiate career at Mississippi State, he’s had trouble staying on the field because of injuries. Out of a possible 80 regular-season games, he played in 57.

In 2006, Norwood rushed for 633 yards. In his second season, he rushed for 613. In 2008, the only season that he played in all 16 games, he rushed for 489 yards.

In 2009, he played in just 10 games (concussions and hip flexor) and rushed for 252 yards.  Last season, he played in two games before

Norwood is an avid fisherman.

Norwood is an avid fisherman.

suffering a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

As a receiver, Norwood caught 12, 28, 36, 19 and one passes. (Not exactly Harmon-like numbers.)

Norwood’s major contribution came as a kickoff returner. He has a total of 2,987 kickoff return yards, which ranks third in team history. His 25.5-yard career kickoff return average currently ranks second in team history.

He was injured in September. The Falcons were set to look at his knee in May or June, seven to eight months after his surgery.

The Falcons drafted running back Jacquizz Rodgers in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. They also have a decision to make on Jason Snelling, who’s been solid as a backup to Michael Turner at running back and Ovie Mughelli at fullback.

“With them drafting a back, they are going in a different direction, I would guess,” said Norwood’s agent Bus Cook by phone on Thursday. “Jerious is a good football player. Somebody is going to pick him up. He’s a great player. He has had some injuries, but he’s going to make somebody a good player.”

The easy-going Norwood recently held his summer football camp in Jackson, Miss.

“He does so well with kids and stuff,” Cook said. “All these camps are out there, but his camp is not designed to make money. He just wants to help kids.”

Norwood has recovered from the knee injury he suffered on the opening kickoff of the 41-7 pasting of the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 19, 2010.

“He’s ready to go play,” Cook said. “Somebody is going to get him real quick. I’m sure there are other teams that will want him on their team.”

So, Sign or Don’t Sign?

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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123 comments Add your comment

TLH770

July 8th, 2011
5:17 am

TLH770

July 8th, 2011
5:18 am

I’ve always been a fan of Norwood but it’s time to let him go… Jacquizz can and will hold down the fort… Leh go Falcons!!!

boot hill

July 8th, 2011
5:31 am

Sign Norwood, he has speed. I don’t believe that you can have enough speed. Quizz, will also do well, but he is a Pocket Hercules that will also be susceptible to injury, because he will have a target/bounty on his back.

Stevie B

July 8th, 2011
6:21 am

I love watching Norwood play. Norwood is also a very a smart guy and can see the writing on the wall. There are tough some decisions we have to make, unfortunately for Norwood, this isn’t one of them.

fanoffalcons

July 8th, 2011
6:49 am

how many games has he played all total in his last 5 years???

mgdawg

July 8th, 2011
6:57 am

I have been a fan of norwood ever since the falcons drafted him. I actually interned with the falcons that year and got to watch his unbelievable speed, and his love for the game when each handoff he took he would run an extra 50 yards down the field, then run back. However, he can’t stay healthy. If they could get norwood for a one year deal extremely cheap I say go for it, otherwise he has to go.

Paddy

July 8th, 2011
7:04 am

Bus Cook said he is a great player. Jim Brown was a great player. John Elway was a great player. Norwood was not even a “great player” in college. He was good in college, he is an avg player in the NFL. What you see is what you get with Norwood, minus a little for injuries. I say don’t sign unless he has no other offers and will come on the cheap. This is where the player needs to step in and tone down his agent. Making stupid statements like Cook did does not help the player during this most crucial period in his playing life.

Thorpe

July 8th, 2011
7:08 am

Gary Bettman is a spineless troll. I would like to challenge him to a boxing match. I am going to Mike Tyson him worse than Peter McNeely. Bettman turned his back on the Atlanta Thrashers. I hate the NHL.
Go Falcons.

rumpdiddy

July 8th, 2011
7:09 am

Let him go! At this point he is a liabilty. If you can’t stay healthy and get on the field what use are you? After three years you are what you are and what he is a loser with bum legs!! Get rid of him and be done with it.

BC

July 8th, 2011
7:24 am

See ya, Jerry.

McNasty

July 8th, 2011
7:25 am

Can’t say yet. Must look at the product, kick the tires, start it up & see how it runs (and gets hit), pay wholesale prices & get a 60 day money back guarantee if not satisfied.
I would not depend on any of our rookies this year except JJ our “Rookie of the Year” baring injury.

HJones

July 8th, 2011
7:33 am

I voted to keep him, but let him go to another team where his skills will be used. Our offensive strategy has never included the appropriate set or timely plays for him. MALARKEY REFUSES OR DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO USE HIM!!! He will never be successful in Atlanta when brought into the game after Michael Turner has run the ball on first and second down for one or two yards, and we expect Norwood not to be noticed. It is absurd how this team has used a man with so much speed.

R.New

July 8th, 2011
7:43 am

Please let him go.

mountain_jim

July 8th, 2011
7:43 am

Norwood’s ’speed’ does no good on injured reserve. His skinny legs are not built for football.

There were many fans who pointed that out when he was drafted. Fans had to hold their breath every time he touched the ball.

No sign and move on. Another McKay whiff. Glad he no longer picks the talent.

McNasty

July 8th, 2011
8:01 am

DLed, I am devastated. I didn’t see it coming (the cheated on never do). Were you unhappy at the local birds nest. Are there younger prettier tweeters with more energy over there. I know, it all my fault. Right? Please don’t t say “It’s me, not you” I should have known when you went on vacation to “Macon” and didn’t call the last two weeks. But, but “The Sporting News”? How could you. I feel so empty. OK, so more money and security for your family, advancing your career, no stupid aints fans, and no one making a issue out of missed commas is really enough?
YOU BETCHA!
Well at least you picked the home team to win the division and do damage in the playoffs

Frontman

July 8th, 2011
8:02 am

Buh-bye, Mr. Glass…

Peter

July 8th, 2011
8:06 am

I say keep Norwood…….he is explosive, and a big play guy……..we need that to off set the grinding ground game we already have.

Imagine him being on the field with Roddy, and our new wide out, what do defenses do then ?

Yes unfortunately he has gotten hurt, but he seems like a guy that would be willing to teach a younger guy, as a pro he is an asset.

Greg Moundine

July 8th, 2011
8:14 am

I like Norwood and I have seriously thoughts about this, but Snelling has done a great job for the Falcons. We all should understand by now that the NFL is a business. If you have not had a chance to here Coach Herm Edwards lecture to the new Rookie class, do so. The NFL is the elite and it’s a job. If you can’t do your job, someone else is waiting to do it.

With this said, if Norwood is traded, get something for him…like a great free agent defensive player!!!!!

dean

July 8th, 2011
8:18 am

I’m going to act like I didn’t see this poll. I like him too much as a person.

KD

July 8th, 2011
8:24 am

You have to be able to stay on the field and play. While I love Norwood as a player (who gives back and stays out of trouble), I would love him more if he could help the team and unfortunately he has not been able to do that the past couple of years.

Tman

July 8th, 2011
8:25 am

I like Norwood, but he needs space to be successful. He can’t run between the tackles. Snelling is definitely a keeper. He’s a hard- nosed runner and a good pas catcher. He does everything he’s asked to do. Here’s I thought that I don’t see discussed much- why not try Norwood at WR? He’s got the speed and moves, and he’s built more along the lines of a receiver anyway. What do you thin?

The Real Falcon

July 8th, 2011
8:26 am

Yeah, let’s put all our eggs in a rookie basket.

TC

July 8th, 2011
8:32 am

Let him go, just need to make sure and keep snelling

Big Dude

July 8th, 2011
8:37 am

Jerious Balsa-wood. Too fragile.

The Man

July 8th, 2011
8:39 am

All our eggs? You forgot about Turner and Snelling, i guess…. “Real Falcon”…

Falconian

July 8th, 2011
8:46 am

Norwood has a lot of potential, but obviously gets injured. For what he is, I think we can sign him for pretty cheap and use him in special teams and such as a lot of people have pointed out. That should free up some money to keep Snelling. The question, to me, is what are we going to do about “The Burner?” Could not be more disappointed in him, despite his numbers from last year. Give the man an excessive number of touches each game, and I imagine he’s going to rack up some yards. Turner has no more explosion, though. He pretty much lost the game against the Saints, which really should be enough to send him packing right there. But then he waddled around and fell on contact against Green Bay like the nauseating days of “Dunn up the middle.” In my opinion, he’s holding back our offense, but who can we get to replace him as an every-down back?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 8th, 2011
8:56 am

fanoffalcons — He’s played 57 out of a possible 80 regular season games. He played in all 16 games in 2008.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 8th, 2011
8:57 am

Paddy — Bus is his agent. He’s obligated to call his client a great player.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 8th, 2011
9:02 am

McNasty – Went a little farther south than Macon! Not touching the rest of that comment.

Brian Hunt

July 8th, 2011
9:14 am

I appreciate was Jerious has done for the team in the past, but he’s too injury prone to invest in another contract. The Falcons have other young backs that should get the opportunity to compete, and the money that would go to Norwood should be used to help retain Snelling.

The Real Falcon

July 8th, 2011
9:33 am

Neither Turner or Snelling is a real speed back. That was the reason for the draft pick.
Still an unproved rookie is NOT what a championship depends upon.
Look around.

Walker, Texas Ranger

July 8th, 2011
9:37 am

then sign someone else a little more dependable.

joe white

July 8th, 2011
9:39 am

sign if we can get him for cheap, but dont over pay been injuried his c

Icehead

July 8th, 2011
9:40 am

HJones you must be a coach you know the game and TMann great idea!!

The Real Falcon

July 8th, 2011
9:41 am

Oh yes there are a lot of speed guys just waiting for a call.

McNasty

July 8th, 2011
9:54 am

Ok since you have no sense of humor just post the link to The Sporting News article dated 7/6/11. Or go to the espn NFC south blog by pat yasinskas and scroll for the article

MS. Bully

July 8th, 2011
9:57 am

Jerious is a great guy and I hope the Falcon’s resign him. Thanks for all you have done representing MS. State in the NFL. Get healthy and show the Falcon’s why they should resign you!!

Dave

July 8th, 2011
10:02 am

Orlando I recently heard I believe on the NFL Network that the speculated salary cap under the new agreement this year will be arround $120 million. Is this true and where do the Falcons stand? Obviously that is an important piece of the information in regards to who the Falcons may sign or not sign in the coming weeks.

Joey

July 8th, 2011
10:06 am

“He played in all 16 games in 2008.
********************************
‘08 must have been the last year of a contract.

robert

July 8th, 2011
10:09 am

opening kick off on offence against arizona in week 2 he hurt his knee. that doesn’t count as two games. hope you enjoyed your time off d led, but very glad you’re back

St. Richt

July 8th, 2011
10:11 am

While I understand if the falcons don’t resign Norwood, I also don’t understand how people can possibly compare Jacquizz Rodgers to him. Jacquizz is quick but is way slower than Norwood. Did anyone notice his lousy pre-draft 40 times?

robert

July 8th, 2011
10:12 am

wow that was funny McNasty. it was a good article though.

D man

July 8th, 2011
10:15 am

Seems to me that he doesn’t like getting tackled. He acts hurt after most tackles. He needs to get tough. I like his skills but don’t like his lack of toughness. I f we can get him cheap, resign, otherwise let him go…

Bigg Bird

July 8th, 2011
10:17 am

I like Norwood – but this is a business (for both Players and Teams) but if it were me I’d let him go.

BOB

July 8th, 2011
10:18 am

First, for anyone that believes that Jacquizz is a rplacement for Norwood based on his speed, here is the tale of the tape: Rodgers BEST time in the 40 was 4.64; Norwood,4.32.
Second, if as earlier articles have suggested, the Falcons are exploring ways to Jacquizz out in space to use his elusiveness; why didn’t that happen with Norwood? If there is a reason to question Norwood durability, how he was used-running betwwen the tackels- has to be part of the conversation too.
Last, Norwood should be given an opportunity to compete for a roster spot.No guarenteed salary. Let the best talent win.

Iceman

July 8th, 2011
10:25 am

Norwood is a great guy, but he’s been way too injury prone the past 2 seasons. The last time he was any good was Matt’s rookie year.

Time for him to move on.

Tech75

July 8th, 2011
10:27 am

Don’t sign him. He’s just too fragile.

david huff

July 8th, 2011
10:30 am

I think that the problems with some teams is that they like players personally and continue to re-sign them even though they can’t win with them. Sometimes you have to just cut the cord.

Atlanta Abe

July 8th, 2011
10:46 am

You cannot achieve success at the NFL level if you are timid hitting the hole…Norwoood almost tiptoes to the hole, then peeks to see what’s coming, then hits the ground. If he got his head on straight, he could be top shelf, but he seems to be afraid of getting hit!

St. Richt

July 8th, 2011
10:46 am

Personally, I would love to see the Falcons take a chance on Norwood again. A highly incentive-based contract….