Fortunately for the Jets, both players appear destined to hit the open market.
Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated reported on Wednesday that the Packers are not expected to re-sign or franchise tag Linsley and that the All-Pro center will be playing for a new team in 2021.
Meanwhile, extension talks between the New England Patriots and Thuney remain stagnant as the two sides are “nowhere close” on a deal. Thuney, much like Linsley, is expected to test free agency.
The NY Jets could target Joe Thuney and Corey Linsley in free agency
That’s good news for teams like the Jets that will be looking to upgrade their interior offensive line in the offseason. In fact, it’s likely been years since we’ve seen two top-five interior offensive linemen hit free agency at the same time — if we’ve ever even seen it before.
But given the fact that the salary cap is set to shrink for just the second time in league history, it isn’t a surprise that it’s going to happen this year.
Linsley turns 30-years-old in July and while he’s still playing at a very high level, the Packers aren’t in the best cap situation. Throw in the fact that the Packers have a few young studs with experience playing center and it makes sense that they’re willing to move on.
As for the Patriots, they tagged Thuney a year ago seemingly delaying the inevitable — and preventing the Jets from making the serious run at him that most believed they would.
But a tag this year would make Thuney the highest-paid guard in football, something the Patriots can’t really afford to do. Thuney’s market could get exuberant, but if there ever was a free agent Joe Douglas would overpay for, it’s Joe Thuney.
The NC State product is one of the best guards in football, is a highly-regarded leader, and has never missed a game in five years in the NFL. And he just so happens to fill one of the Jets’ biggest needs.
With both Linsley and Thuney set to hit the market, the Jets must do everything they can to come away with at least one of them. If they were to sign Linsley, it would likely mean Connor McGovern slides over to guard — a position he played in Denver.
Meanwhile, Thuney would likely take over for Alex Lewis at left guard leaving the right guard position as the only hole left to be filled, assuming they cut ties with Greg Van Roten.
Linsley and Thuney were always projected to be two of the top free agents available this offseason. And now, it’s pretty much confirmed that they will be hitting the open market.
Expect the Jets to be very interested.