ESPN reporter Jeremy Fowler hinted in his free agent column that the Jets could make a play for soon to be free agent Packers center Corey Linsley.
Last off-season the Jets signed Connor McGovern to a 3 year $27 million contract in the hope he could shore up the shaky line, and while far from the biggest problem, McGoverns first year was extremely underwhelming.
Most of the conversation so far has been around how the Jets improve their guard play with Joe Thuney being touted as New York’s #1 priority when free agency hits. However, Linsley makes a lot of sense when you really think about it.
First of all McGovern isn’t going anywhere unless we work out a trade. He had $18 million guaranteed on his contract and the Jets would have $10 million of dead cap if they cut him in 2021. However, they could easily move him to RG which would allow them to cut Greg Van Roten freeing up over $3 million. If the Jets then cut Alex Lewis who was another disappointment in 2020, that would give them $8 million of extra cap which is close to the estimated contract Linsley would receive, $10-$11 million per year (according to PFF).
If you say to me we can get Linsley in exchange for Lewis, GVR and around $2 million of extra cap spend, I’m taking that every single time.
Outside of the financials you look at performance. Linsley was the #1 graded center in the league according to PFF. Elite as both a run and pass blocker, the Packers anchorman gave up just 1 sack and committed 0 penalties over 734 regular season snaps. He only allowed 2 hits on Aaron Rodgers, he is by all intents and purposes an elite center.
We don’t know who will be under center for the Jets next year, but I can tell you whoever it is would benefit from having an experienced head like Linsley snapping him the football.
An added bonus to all of this is the system he’d be coming from. He’s just come off an elite season as the best center in football playing for Matt LaFleur who learnt his trade working with Kyle Shanahan in 3 different cities over 8 years. The Jets offensive coordinator is Mike LaFleur, younger brother of Matt, and although the systems have evolved and will be different, you have to imagine the basic principles and philosophies will be similar. There would be a comfort level there knowing he’s excelled in a similar system.
the good thing about this is that with the financial outline above, it wouldn’t stop the Jets targeting Joe Thuney as well. Joe Douglas has talked about building from the trenches out, if the Jets went into the 2021 season with an offensive line consisting of Becton, Thuney, Linsley, McGovern and Fant, I’d say that was mission accomplished.