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June 23, 2017

Time To Lock Up Linsley

Now that the dust has settled on free agency and the draft, general manager Ted Thompson should think long and hard about extending the contract of center Corey Linsley. Prior to the start of the regular season would be the perfect time to lock up the present and hopefully future starting center of the Packers.

As well as JC Tretter played early last season – which, by the way, was good enough to get him a three-year deal worth over $18 million from the Cleveland Browns – Linsley was clearly the preferred choice of the front office and the coaching staff. That’s because the former Ohio State star is already one of the top 15 centers in the National Football League, and at the age of 25, he should only get better in the years to come.

Linsley lacks size at barely over 300 pounds, but he’s incredibly strong in the upper body. He’s also a deceptively good athlete. There’s really no weakness to his game. That’s why it’s imperative to extend him before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next March. And the longer Thompson waits, the more he’ll have to pay.

While not all soon-to-be free agents are interested in re-signing early, Linsley would likely be receptive. Why? Because he’s currently rehabbing from ankle surgery – his second major injury in less than a year. The idea of security in the form of a hefty signing bonus would probably be very appealing. Sure it’s a bit risky for the Packers, but it’s a risk worth taking. It could also be a risk that saves the team millions of dollars.

OK, I admit I’m a little biased when it comes to Linsley, He was my favorite “under the radar” player in the 2014 draft (he’s the only one of those “under the radar” guys that Ted has ever selected). I loved his game in college, and he’s the same player in the NFL. In fact, he has a chance to be the best center to play for the Packers since Mike Flanagan in the 1990s. And that includes another undersized tough guy named Scott Wells, who went to the Pro Bowl in 2007 and signed a $25 million deal as a free agent with the Rams.

Based on other deals signed by centers in the past 12 months, Linsley – assuming he has a healthy and productive season – could be looking at a 5-year deal worth $35 million to $40 million next March. Getting a deal done in the next few months could knock those numbers down closer to 4 and 24. That’s still pricey, but it would be more palatable to a GM who doesn’t tend to break the bank for interior O-linemen.

Wide receiver Davante Adams, left guard Lane Taylor and safety Morgan Burnett are other key players eligible for unrestricted free agency after the 2017 season, but I don’t see Thompson rushing to get deals done with any of them. Unlike Linsley, who’s been a quality starter since the first game of his rookie year, Adams and Taylor still have something to prove. As for Burnett, his age alone would’ve made him a difficult call – and that was before Josh Jones was drafted in the second round. The guess here is that Thompson will wait until at least Halloween before even broaching extension talks with those three players.

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6 Responses “Time To Lock Up Linsley”

  1. Bryan
    May 12, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    It seemed for a while that it was regular practice to re-sign pending free agents a year before their contract expired. Bahktiari is the only example from the past few years I can think of. Holding those guys to the end of their deal often times requires us to pay more (Shields, Bulaga, Cobb, Perry).

    Yes, many of those players were in “prove it” situations. So is Linsley. I think if you believe in the talent then you try to retain the player at a more palatable cost.

  2. speakeasy
    May 12, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with your post MR. I never quite understood the love for Tretter. Decent player, but often overpowered. Yes, he can get to the second level better than Tretter, but let’s face it, GB is a passing team.

    Linsley doesn’t get shoved back often and there is no worse place for pressure than up the middle when passing.

    GB is a pass first team and sticking with Linsley was the right call. I think a deal gets done for sure on this one.

  3. TJV
    May 12, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    I also agree it makes sense to lock Linsley up before the season starts. One thing I really liked about Linsley was he actually played the position on the OL Ted drafted him to play in the pros and of course he was damn good at Ohio State. Locking up Linsley makes even more sense with the departures of Lang and Sitton. Taylor was OK last season but was the worst of the five starters. It looks like Evans is a one-year stop gap at RG so having Linsley locked in with inexperienced and less talented OGs on either side will be a plus. Better to extend him now to save some money.

    If they do extend Linsley before the season, I wonder how much cap room will be left. A couple draftees still have to be signed and Thompson likes to have a cushion during the season and to roll into next season; but I think they could use a veteran pass rusher at OLB.

    BTW, I liked Tretter – not to start over Linsley – but having him as a backup was a luxury few teams could afford.

  4. speakeasy
    May 12, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    BTW, meant to say Tretter gets to the second level better than Linsley, but I’m sure you all knew that. Either way, lock up Linsley!

  5. Nerd
    May 12, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    Tretter backed up numerous positions. Right now I’d settle for a backup C.

  6. May 13, 2017 at 9:39 am

    I completely agree with what TJV and MR have said here. Locking up Lindsey now would not only save the Packers a few bucks but looking at the who the Packers have playing guard this year I’d think TT would want to lock up Lindsey all the more. The LAST thing Thompson can afford to do is risk losing Lindsey in Free Agency. I still have a hard time believing less than 12 months ago the Packers still had the best Guard tandem in the NFL with Sitton and Lang and now have neither. That makes getting Lindsey signed a MUST!

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