The Bengals’ pool for free agent guards is slowly thinning only one day into legal tampering. After Joe Thuney signed with the Chiefs, the Bengals lose out on another choice to help patch their offensive line.
Corey Linsley, who has spent the last seven years playing center for the Packers, signed a deal with the Chargers on Monday afternoon, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The #Chargers are expected to sign all-pro center Corey Linsley, per sources. The longtime #Packers standout has a new home on a deal expected to make him the NFL's highest-paid center.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 15, 2021
The longtime Packers center and former Ohio State Buckeyes lineman was a fifth-round pick in 2014 out of Ohio State. Linsley overlapped with Billy Price for a year with the Buckeyes.
Though Linsley was not as high on the priority list as Thuney, Linsley still would have been an improvement for the Bengals.
Though Linsley has mostly played center in the NFL, the Bengals have put him at center while Hopkins is recovering from his ACL injury, or tried to move Linsley to guard. They could have also tried putting Hopkins at guard once he’s able to return.
Just because the Bengals have lost out on two top linemen doesn’t mean they aren’t trying. Thuney signed a five-year deal worth $80 million, while Linsley is about to become the league’s highest-paid center. The Bengals probably figure that their money is best allocated other places. Signing one of these players would eat into at least half of the money the Bengals have available for free agents this year.
The pool of potential free agent linemen is shrinking, so the Bengals might have to look to the draft to find protection for Burrow.