Packers 2021 free agency profile: Corey Linsley would be big loss

The Green Bay Packers‘ offensive line was the No. 1 in football this past season, but they could be about to lose a key piece.

Longtime starting center Corey Linsley is a free agent and, after his best season yet, will the Packers be able to offer him the money he deserves?

But before we get to the contract, let’s look at just why Linsley will be one of the top free agents available next month.

Why the Packers could have interest

Linsley is the best center in football. That’s why.

OK, let’s dive a little deeper. Back in 2014, Linsley was a fifth-round pick who provided some depth behind then-starter JC Tretter. Tretter would suffer an injury ahead of the Packers’ season opener against the Seattle Seahawks and the league’s most dominant defense.

From that game, it was hard not to be impressed with Linsley’s performance. The starting job quickly became his, he was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team at the end of the season and the Packers had found their new long-term starting center.

Fast forward to 2020, Linsley’s best season to date.

A first-team All-Pro for the first time, Linsley outperformed every other center in football. According to ESPN, Linsley led all centers in run block win rate, while ranking fifth at the position in pass block win rate.

Simply put, Linsley is one of the NFL’s best centers and the Packers will struggle to replace him.

The contract

Spotrac estimates Linsley will make around $9.7 million per year, which is actually a little lower than I expected.

Here’s the problem: Linsley said in January that the team was yet to contact him over a new deal. And as former Packers guard and Pro Bowler T.J. Lang put it, there’s only usually one outcome when that happens.

It sure seems that the Packers don’t believe they will be able to compete with other teams for Linsley, meaning the team is likely going to need a new starting center in 2021.