Norwood: release from Ticats just part of the business

Eric Norwood just got hosed by the nasty end of the football business – and he’s not even mad about it.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats released the veteran defensive end on Monday, a fan-favourite who played exceedingly well in his three seasons with the club. He was an all-star in 2014 when he tied for second in the league in sacks, then had seven more in 10 games last season. The 27-year-old also had two fumble recovery touchdowns, including a memorable 106-yarder against the Edmonton Eskimos.

But Norwood also missed eight games with a variety of ailments last season, then suffered a significant knee injury – including an ACL tear – in the East semi-final win over the Toronto Argonauts last November. He wouldn’t have been ready for training camp and would have likely missed at least half of the Ticat season.

And so the Ticats did the math, both in terms of dollars and cents and the ever-valuable roster spots, and let him go. Norwood was entering the final season of his contract and was set to earn in neighbourhood of $90,000 and while that number wouldn’t have counted against the salary cap during his stay on the six-game injured list, it’s still money out of the football operations budget.

Vice president of football operations and head coach Kent Austin delivered the news.

“Kent called and told me – it was strictly a business move. They have training camp coming up and they need the roster spot,” Norwood said. “I can’t be mad at them.”

Raging against the football machine would hardly do him much good, anyway. With non-guaranteed contracts, players in both the CFL and NFL face the same risks: perform or get cut, stay healthy or go home.

“It’s fair but it’s also the shitty part of the business,” Norwood said. “We’re in the business of production and if I can’t produce immediately, then they need to find someone else.”

Which, of course, they will. The move comes just days after the Ticats held their off-season mini-camp, which included several import defensive ends, several of which the team is high on. The team also signed veteran John Chick to a free agent contract in January and for every big ticket item on the ledger there needs to be a couple of budget buys on the other end of the pay scale. Increasingly, players in the middle – guys like Norwood – get squeezed out.

That said, Norwood acknowledges he was planning to test the free agent waters after the 2016 season and this simply accelerates that timetable. It doesn’t sound like he’ll be unemployed for long: as of Monday afternoon he’d already heard from four or five teams and his most recent medical update was a good one.

“My doctor told me the last time I saw him that I’d be ready sometime in July or August,” he said. “I’m running and cutting now, back dunking a basketball. Now it’s just a matter of rebuilding my endurance.”

Norwood also left the door open to a return to the Ticats and was careful to leave all his bridges unburned.

“I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Hamilton, nothing but great things to say about Kent,” he said, sounding very much like he meant it. “I appreciate everything they’ve done for me and I love the city of Hamilton. Everybody was good to me.”

Except the game.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1526 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

13 Comments on Norwood: release from Ticats just part of the business

  1. GoCats! // May 2, 2016 at 7:45 pm //

    Sorry to see him go … but he signed almost right away.

  2. Thanks for follow up Drew. Still a little angry about this one but just gotta have faith. Starting to get a little worried now though.

  3. I was really hoping there was more to it than letting go an injured player – especially when the injury occurred during a game and was not a non-football injury or something.

  4. TicatTO // May 3, 2016 at 7:10 am //

    Unless Jake Olsen signed an entry level contract,I do not see why this move was made. Olsen is hurt and resigned while Norwood is under contract and is released. A bit of a head scratcher.

  5. As Many people seem upset about this if he can’t contribute then someone else needs to fill in and who’s to say there isn’t a couple solid ends that have come out of mini camp that are being paid half his salary and can make an impact right away . Trust in the people who run this team and stop whining about every move that’s made !

    • Robin (from THE city) // May 3, 2016 at 10:48 am //

      I feel bad for Eric Norwood`s departure. A solid player. However, as Drew pointed out, such are the cruelties of the business, even for that giant to the south.

      I trust, as always, that Kent and his people will find and prepare the new stars.

  6. Flying Wing // May 3, 2016 at 9:40 am //

    This is just part of the regular coming and going of pro football. Its a cruel business and until you wrap your head around that fact this type of news will get you down. John Chick was signed at a good buck to finish out his career as one rush end and it seems likely that Adrian Tracy will have an opportunity to be the other. Tracy was at training camp last year and showed great promise until he was hurt and spent time hiding on the injury list. He’s younger and cheaper, until he proves himself, than Norwood. ALL professional sports is changing and in the new salary cap worlds you have a core of high earning veterans and the rest of the roster is back filled with younger cheaper players. Guys in the middle like Norwood are increasingly being squeezed out. Unfortunate but the way it is.

  7. Chopper11 // May 3, 2016 at 2:02 pm //

    I too can’t get why people are struggling with this. Good guy, but many of them are. Time to move on folks, and I believe he’s missed times in both the last 2 seasons due to injury, so, it’s less of a risk letting him go.

  8. citizensimon // May 3, 2016 at 8:50 pm //

    All the BEST to a Player/Worker who gave his ALL in the pursuit of greatness … Professional Sport …Well, he seems to be on the road to a reasonable recovery and I hope coach Austin and Mr. Tillman deem him worthy at a later date and get him back to us in the summer – if at all possible – if NEED BE. As previously mentioned we have some very strong prospects for this coming season. I not worried!

  9. 90G is a bargain for a guy who’s this productive

  10. Lindsay Wilcox // May 8, 2016 at 3:54 pm //

    I hoped Norwood would have been given time to heal, even if on the IIR list. Other players have been, and his salary is not that much of a dent and probably would not have counted against the salary cap. I hear Norwood has signed with the Riders – good luck Eric, all the best !

  11. EddieM. // May 8, 2016 at 6:08 pm //

    I just went over to Riderfans to read what they had to say about signing Norwood. A moron named Bingo_Arms gives this move a C. It makes you wonder what those people over there are eating and drinking or if they know anything about football at all. I was sad when we released Norwood because he’s such a good player. He’ll be missed.

  12. Hey EddieM, …Bingo_Arms is one person. We riderfans know alot more about football than you or any other clowns in Hamilton about football. We know Norwood is a good player and if signed, would be a great addition to the Riders. Saskatchewan has the best fan base in the country,give your head a shake and maybe you might understand a little more.

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