Jaguars in good position to withstand Brandon Linder’s retirement

Jacksonville Jaguars center Brandon Linder (65) Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars center Brandon Linder (65) Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

Not long ago, reports of Jacksonville Jaguars center Brandon Linder possibly retiring surfaced. After days of deliberation, the veteran center has made a decision and he’s indeed stepping away from football.

Linder announced his retirement in a post on social media. In the message, he thanks the Jaguars organization, the city of Jacksonville, and his teammates for “sacrificing themselves entirely for the sport. The veteran also says he’s also grateful for the chance to retire as a longtime Jaguar. Here’s the full statement if you want to take a look at it.

A third-round pick in the 2014 draft, Linder was a mainstay of the Jaguars’ offensive line. Throughout his eight-year carer, he made 88 starts and although he never earned a Pro Bowl selection, he was among the top guards in the league. Furthermore, he’s one player in franchise history to be named team captain five times.

Alas, injuries took a toll on Linder over the past few years which is one of the reasons he decided to step away from football. Over the last four seasons, he missed 22 games and if he hadn’t retired, there’s a strong chance he would have been released. His retirement frees up $10, which puts the Jags a total of $13.6 million under the cap, per Michael DiRocco of ESPN. On the other hand, his departure from football leaves a void at center.

The Jaguars have options to replace Brandon Linder.

The Jaguars’ offensive line was significantly better when Linder was on the field but after he called it quits, they will now have to look for a replacement. The first option is Tyler Shatley, who will get the first crack at center. An undrafted free agent in 2014, Shatley joined the Jaguars the same year as Linder and has started 18 games the last two years.

Even though there’s a dropoff from Linder to Shatley, the latter has held his own when called upon. The team’s brass knows his value, so they just gave him a two-year deal, probably preparing for Linder’s eventual departure. On the other hand, the Jaguars could pursue either Matt Paradis or J.C. Tretter. Both of them are free agents with starting experience.

Another alternative is to select a center in the 2022 draft. While taking Tyler Linderbaugh first overall is unrealistic and he will most likely be gone by the 33rd overall pick (the Jags’ selection in the second round), they could target someone like Memphis’ Dylan Parham, or Arizona State’s Donhovan West. Both of them should be available in the third round. This route makes sense as the team’s brass needs to look for a long-term answer at the position and they will have the chance to do so this year.

Linder’s retirement wasn’t necessarily surprising but that doesn’t lessen his impact. The Jaguars have taken several steps to bolster their offensive line this offseason. They will now have to address the center position. Fortunately, they have ample time and options to do so.

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