“After much reflection, I have realized that the man I currently aspire to be is no longer aligning with the person I must become to play this game”, he wrote. “It is at this time that I have decided to close this chapter of my life and retire from the NFL… I am grateful to fulfill my goal of retiring a lifetime Jaguar. Jacksonville will remain my home. I am excited to chase new dreams and I’m looking forward to all of the great things to come in the future.”
Linder, 30, was drafted by the Jaguars in the third round in 2014. Beginning as a right guard and transitioning to center two years later, he started all 88 regular season games he played in, along with three playoff contests. His play at the new position earned him a then record-breaking five-year, $51.7MM extension in 2017. Injuries started to become an issue not long after that deal, though.
In the four campaigns he played in after signing the new contract, Linder only played a full season once. He was placed on IR this past October, limiting him to nine games played (the same number he was available for in 2018 and 2020). His 62.9 PFF grade in 2021 was the lowest of his career, ending a streak in which he ranked amongst the best centers in the league and was often the best player on Jacksonville’s offensive line.
Linder’s retirement will save the Jaguars roughly $9.5MM in cap space, as none of his salary for the upcoming season was guaranteed. Given how tight to the cap the team was before today, that financial flexibility will be welcomed, though Linder’s consistency and level of play throughout his tenure will likely be difficult to replace.