Busy Packers keep center Corey Linsley off free-agent market
GREEN BAY - Taking advantage of the nearly $10 million in salary-cap room they had left over this season, the Green Bay Packers took care of another offseason free-agent priority, signing center Corey Linsley to a contract extension Saturday.
Less than 24 hours earlier, receiver Davante Adams had signed a four-year extension worth a reported $58 million, guaranteeing both of the Packers’ top free-agents-to-be will not hit the open market in March.
Linsley agreed to a three-year extension worth $25.5 million, a source confirmed.
It’s a fairly big coup for general manager Ted Thompson and negotiator Russ Ball, given both Adams and Linsley would have drawn considerable interest on the free-agent market.
Adams would have been one of the top receivers available and might have far exceeded what he wound up getting. Linsley has been a four-year starter at a position that isn’t easy to fill.
The Packers had until this weekend to sign any of their players to contract extensions and have the money count toward the 2017 salary cap. The benefit of doing so is that the Packers will be on the hook for less in the remaining years of both players’ contracts.
With the signings, the Packers will have used up some of the $32 million in cap room they have for 2018, but they should still have plenty of room to re-sign other free agents and compete for others around the NFL.
The next priority for the Packers will be to make quarterback Aaron Rodgers the highest-paid player in the NFL. The extension he signs shouldn’t have salary-cap ramifications until later down the line because the Packers can use guaranteed money to mitigate the raise Rodgers will receive.
Linsley was a fifth-round pick in 2014 out of Ohio State. He has started all 53 regular-season games he has played in, missing six games in 2016 with a hamstring tear and three games in 2015 with an ankle sprain.
Linsley had been in a yearly battle with JC Tretter for the starting job, but the Packers decided to let Tretter leave in free agency and stick with Linsley. He is another in a long line of starting offensive linemen Thompson has landed in the middle and late rounds of the draft as well as in undrafted free agency.
The Packers’ offensive line heading into the Detroit game Sunday features David Bakhtiari (fourth round, 2013), Lane Taylor (undrafted free agent, ’13), Linsley, Lucas Patrick (undrafted free agent, ’16) and Justin McCray (undrafted free agent, ’17).
In addition, Kyle Murphy, who is on injured reserve, was a seventh-round pick in ’16.
With Adams and Linsley on board, the Packers' pending free agents are safety Morgan Burnett, long snapper Brett Goode, cornerback Davon House, defensive tackle Quinton Dial, tight end Richard Rodgers, linebacker Ahmad Brooks, receiver Jeff Janis, cornerback Demitri Goodson, guard Jahri Evans.