Jaguars’ 4 easiest roster decisions for the offense this offseason
No. 2 roster decision the Jaguars must make – Brandon Linder’s contract.
Center Brandon Linder has been a mainstay of the Jaguars’ offensive line since being drafted in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Although he’s never earned any Pro Bowl designations or All-Pro nods during his NFL career, he’s played at a high level and has been one of the best at his position over the last eight years.
Linder was the first player in franchise history to be named captain five times and is a veteran voice in a relatively young locker room. There’s no doubt the center is invaluable both on and off the field. However, he’s dealt with injuries throughout his eight-year career and has missed 41 games, 15 over the last two seasons. He’s entering the last year of the five-year contract extension he signed in 2017 and is set to count $10 million against the cap. Releasing him would free up that amount of cap room with no dead cap hit.
The Jags could easily re-sign Tyler Shatley who has made 18 starts at center the last two years, and have him take Linder’s place in the lineup. Linder’s the best player of the two. Nobody is suggesting otherwise but due to his availability or lack thereof, the team could go with Shatley, the cheaper option of the two.
If the Jaguars aren’t interested in cutting ties with Linder — his leadership would be missed — they could restructure his contract the way they did with guard Andrew Norwell last offseason. The team’s brass could reduce the center’s salary but add guarantees to the deal. Meeting halfway seems like the reasonable thing to do for both the team and the player.