GREEN BAY — Well, if the Green Bay Packers were looking for a way to get people talking about something other than their first playoff-less season in nearly a decade, this was a good way to do it: By signing two of their key starters to new contracts in less than 24 hours.
The Packers signed starting center Corey Linsley to a three-year contract extension Saturday, a deal that’s worth $25.5 million and includes a signing bonus of nearly $10 million, according to an NFL Network report.
The deal came one day after the Packers signed No. 1 wide receiver Davante Adams to a four-year, $58.75 million contract and means the Packers have successfully kept their top two priorities in free agency off the open market, which opens in March.
A year after watching a host of key contributors depart in free agency – from Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang (a veteran leader now in Detroit) to safety Micah Hyde (a Pro Bowl selection with Buffalo this season) to likely Pro Football Hall of Fame pass-rusher Julius Peppers (11 sacks for Carolina this season) – the Packers made sure they locked up two key pieces that quarterback Aaron Rodgers surely wanted back in the lineup in 2018.
With Linsley and Adams re-signed, the Packers can now turn their attention to Rodgers, who has two years remaining on his deal but is in line for a pay raise from the five-year, $110 million extension he signed in April 2013.
A fifth-round pick in 2014, Linsley, 26, enters Sunday’s regular-season finale at Detroit as the Packers’ only offensive player to have played every one of the team’s 979 offensive snaps this season after starting last season on the physically unable to perform list because of a torn hamstring. He reclaimed his starting job once healthy last year, then Linsley underwent ankle surgery last offseason to repair an injury he originally suffered in 2015.
“He’s been very consistent. He obviously hasn’t missed a snap. That’s a tribute to him and the work he put in to get his body back after the surgery and all that stuff,” offensive line coach James Campen said. “That isn’t easy to do when you have to come back from things and miss a lot. He has really started to play really well, getting his pads down and doing those things. He’s just been very consistent and very stabilizing for the group. (We’re) very proud of how he’s handled the stuff that’s gone on around him, too. His leadership skills have gone way up.”
JC Tretter, who started in Linsley’s place last season, departed last March for a three-year, $16.5 million free-agent deal, leaving Linsley as the only true center remaining on the roster. In a season where Linsley had to play well, he returned to his pre-injury form and was a steadying force on a line beset by injuries for much of the year.
“I don’t think we have enough time for me to talk about how good Corey is. Corey has put himself in a good position to make a lot of money,” left tackle David Bakhtiari said last week. “He’s a fundamentally sound football player. He’s got strength and he’s got smarts. And you couple that with athleticism, I really want him to be around. But we’ll see what happens. But I know whatever happens for him will be the best situation for him.”