At this moment, if you were to ask Chargers fans who their favorite free agent offensive lineman are, you’re going to get a lot of the same answers.
Allenjandro Villanueva. Joe Thuney. Brandon Scherff.
These are all phenomenal linemen who could add some juice to this needy position group. But there’s one player in particular that may be on the top of everyone’s wish list, and that’s center Corey Linsley. Coincidentally, Linsley was paired with the Chargers as the team’s “perfect free agent fit,” according to analyst Marc Sessler.
“Don’t accuse me of heat-seeking clicks as I dial up yet another center,” said Sessler. “The Chargers desperately require help up front with only tackle Bryan Bulaga etched in permanent marker for 2021. Justin Herbert thrived against pressure during the most dazzling rookie debut we’ve seen under center in eons. Amazingly, this came behind Pro Football Focus’ 32nd-ranked offensive line. How about pairing one of the game’s most exciting arms with Linsley, the highest-graded player at his position last season?”
Some may like the idea of pairing Herbert with a young center so that both can grown and progress along side each other, but the idea of adding the 29 year old Linsley means that Herbert will be taking snaps from one of the best at the position likely through the remainder of his first NFL contract. Both have their pros and cons, but I believe capitalizing on the quarterback’s rookie deal over the next three to four seasons should be the priority.
Of course since he plays the offensive line position, you’re probably already looking up his medical history if you haven’t already. Linsley played and started in 13 games in 2020. In the previous three seasons (2017-2019), he didn’t miss a single game as he started 48-straight contests. To go even further, Linsley has started every one of his 99 career games played in.
Yes, there’s some blemishes early in his career, but the nine starts he was limited to in 2016 doesn’t look nearly as bad when you recall the Chargers’ recent history at the position.
Overall, I believe the signing of Linsley is the best realistic signing that the Chargers could make this offseason. Star lineman such as Brandon Scherff and Joe Thuney are a bit younger and their teams will likely want to bring them back because of that, so Linsley’s profile seems to be the best combination of talent, potential, and cost that the Bolts will be looking for when the signing period commences.