JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville center Brandon Linder announced his retirement on Monday morning after eight years with the franchise.
Linder posted a four-paragraph statement on his Instagram page in which he thanked the city and his teammates and said he plans on remaining in the area. Linder had one year remaining on his contract and was likely going to be cut this spring. His retirement saves the Jaguars $10 million against the salary cap.
"Eight years ago, you welcomed me like a family member and have continued to support me unconditionally. I have grown to love this city, where I have put down roots with my family, made lifelong friends, and cultivated my passion for the outdoors," Linder said in his statement. "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. It is at this time that I have decided to close this chapter of my life and retire from the NFL.
"I started playing football when I was seven and I have always played with my whole heart for the opportunity to win. I have spent most of my life sacrificing my body, mind, and time in order to fulfill my dreams. I am beyond grateful for the opportunities that were presented to me and all the doors that have opened because of football. I have learned valuable life lessons and have had many unforgettable experiences that I will cherish forever. I am thankful to my teammates, coaches, family, and friends for helping me grow in the sport and support me in becoming a master at my craft.
"To my teammates, I want to thank you for sacrificing yourselves entirely to the sport. The experiences that we have gone through together is why the brotherhood that we have created is so special. I will miss that the most.
"I am grateful to be able 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 has struggled to stay healthy and has missed 41 games in his eight-year career, including 15 in the past two seasons. His $10 million cap figure in 2022 was going to be the third highest on the team.
The Jaguars signed backup center Tyler Shatley to a two-year, $4.8 million extension (with $2.35 million guaranteed) earlier this month. Shatley has started 33 games at center and guard from 2016 to 2021, including all 15 games at center that Linder missed the past two seasons.
Linder has been the starter since the Jaguars drafted him in the third round in 2014. He signed a five-year extension with the team in 2017 that made him the league's highest-paid center at the time in terms of annually salary ($10.34 million). Linder has started all 88 games in which he has played, but has played only one full season (2019) and has played in only nine games in three of the past four seasons.
"Congratulations to Brandon Linder and his family on an excellent NFL career," GM Trent Baalke said. "Brandon spent the entirety of his career here in Jacksonville and earned the respect of his teammates, the fans and everyone within the Jaguars organization. He became the first player in franchise history to earn the distinction of a gold jersey patch representative of being a five-time captain. Off the field, he represented the team with pride as an ambassador in the community. For everything he's contributed both on and off the field, we thank him and wish him the best in retirement."