In their history, the Jets have fielded some of the greatest centers to ever play the game. From long-time Jet Joe Fields to more recent star players such as Kevin Mawae and Nick Mangold.
Unfortunately, since the retirement of Mangold in 2016 the most recent players to hold down the position have been underwhelming at best.
From Wesley Johnson and Jonotthan Harrison to more recently Spencer Long and Connor McGovern, the position has been lacking a true field-general.
As we look ahead towards the 2021 season there is an extremely good chance that the quarterback of the Jets will be a very young player.
Whether they stick with Sam Darnold or select their future quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft, it would be of great benefit to have a strong and seasoned center leading the charge.
Former Jets’ quarterbacks such as Chad Pennington and Mark Sanchez benefitted greatly from having guys like Mawae and Mangold playing in front of them. Our future leader would reap the benefits of a player such as Corey Linsley as well.
The NY Jets would be wise to target Corey Linsley
Linsley was drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. He played his college football at Ohio State and also lettered in track and field.
He has been the starting center for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers since 2014. Linsley has been a rock along the offensive line and has clearly established himself as one of the best all-around centers in the NFL.
Linsley is a well-rounded player who excels equally in both run blocking and in pass protection. Pro Football Focus had the seasoned veteran graded out in 2021 with an overall score of 86.4 which ranked him as the best center in football.
The 29-year-old is in a class by himself among the 2021 free-agent centers. He is a smart and aware leader who rarely gets beat. In 2021, he took 734 snaps and did not commit a single penalty while allowing just one sack.
The Packers would love to re-sign Linsley, but given their tricky financial situation, he will almost certainly be moving on to a new team. Linsley will command a multi-year deal similar to that of the best centers in the league.
Eight different centers are currently making $10 million or more per year on their current deals. Linsley earned $8.5 million per year on his last contract and is certain to join the $10 million-plus club in 2021.
What the Packers lack, the Jets have, in terms of financial stability. The Jets could offer Linsley a solid multi-year deal in the two-to-three-year range at a salary that would put him amongst the highest-paid players at his position.
As for the Jets’ current center, Connor McGovern, with two years remaining on his contract, he could be moved over to guard, a position he is familiar with and has played before. The Jets would now be vastly improved at both the center and guard position.
Linsley put together an All-Pro season in 2020. He was the highest-graded player by PFF at the center position in 2021. As such, he would provide the Jets with leadership and an anchor along the offensive line
Paired with Mekhi Becton, the Jets would clearly be on their way to offering the needed protection for a young and developing quarterback. The Jets have the money to get this done and still be able to address many other areas of need.
It’s time to adequately address the offensive line, and signing Corey Linsley would do that.