Joe Schobert

Bengals Tried Hard For LBs Joe Schobert, Nick Kwiatkoski

Free agent linebacker Joe Schobert just agreed to a massive contract with Jacksonville, and he apparently had options. The Bengals were “trying aggressively” to land Schobert, according to Jeremy Fowler of (Twitter link). 

Schobert got five years and $54MM from the Jaguars, and Fowler reports that they were unwilling to match that. Cincinnati is usually never a big player in free agency, and they’ve now struck out on a couple of their bigger attempts. The Bengals were also in until the end on Nick Kwiatkoski, who ended up with the Raiders, tweets Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic. Clearly, they’re looking for linebacker help.

Given what Cincy’s defense looked like last year, it isn’t surprising that they’re being a little more active than usual in free agency. The Bengals were the worst team in the league in the first season of the Zac Taylor era, and figure to start completely fresh in 2020, likely with a new rookie quarterback.

Playing in the same division as the Browns and facing him twice a year, the Bengals had plenty of opportunities to scout Schobert. Inside linebackers have been flying off the board, and the pickings are now officially somewhat slim. One of the top remaining options is one of their own, Nick Vigil.

The fact that the Bengals were interested in these guys is a sign they weren’t too keen on bringing Vigil back, but they could pivot and re-sign him now that they’ve whiffed on Schobert and Kwiatkowski.

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Jaguars To Sign Joe Schobert To ~$54MM Deal

The Jaguars have agreed to sign linebacker Joe Schobert to a five-year, $53.75MM deal, according to’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The pact will pay him an average of $10.75MM per season with $22.5MM guaranteed. 

Schobert moves from the Browns to the Jaguars, where he’ll try to help the front seven fill the gap left by the Calais Campbell trade. He won’t directly boost the edge rush in Campbell’s absence, but he’ll help to anchor the LB group and work against the run.

The two sides discussed an extension in November, but things cooled off as the season wore on. There was a bit of hope for a new deal when new GM Andrew Berry replaced John Dorsey, but they still weren’t able to bridge the gap. At the combine, the Browns informed Schobert’s rep that they would not offer the “double-digit millions” he was seeking in annual salary. Schobert, clearly, was able to get that money elsewhere.

The Wisconsin product has been a solid starter since entering the league as a fourth-round in 2016. Schobert made the Pro Bowl in 2017 and started all 16 games this past year, racking up 133 tackles, four interceptions, two sacks, and nine passes defended.

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Joe Schobert Won’t Return To Browns

The back and forth Joe Schobert saga has reached an endpoint. The Browns will indeed let the linebacker walk in free agency, a source told Mary Kay Cabot of

Back in November we heard that the two sides had discussed an extension, but not long after that we got word that things had cooled and the Browns were in no hurry to re-sign him. They appeared to be headed toward a split when John Dorsey was still in charge, but then Dorsey’s firing seemed to open things up again and new GM Andrew Berry resumed talks. Kay Cabot reports that Berry met with Schobert’s agent at the combine this week, and that the meeting didn’t go too well.

The Browns let Schobert’s agent know that they wouldn’t be giving him the “double-digit millions” he’s looking to get annually on the open market, Kay Cabot writes. Sources told Kay Cabot that the Browns are “planning to make a big investment” in their offensive line, and that they’re saving their cap space for that push.

Cleveland drafted Schobert out of Wisconsin in the fourth-round back in 2016, and he developed into a solid starter. He made the Pro Bowl in 2017, and has generally been very productive. He started all 16 games this past year, racking up 133 tackles, four interceptions, two sacks, and nine passes defended. As for where he’ll go next there are many teams that will be interested in Schobert’s services, and the Packers are exploring making a bid for the inside linebacker, according to Tom Silverstein and Jim Owczarski of

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AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Hurst

Were Joe Burrow to be drafted by the Bengals, he wants the team to keep A.J. Green. The Bengals are believed to be zeroing in on the Heisman winner, who told’s Jim Trotter he would like Green to be back in Cincinnati — if, in fact, the Bengals follow through on drafting the LSU quarterback (video link). The franchise tag window opens Thursday, and the Bengals have been linked to tagging Green. The nine-year veteran has voiced opposition to this, going into his age-32 season, but said he would play on the tag. However, Green also indicated he would likely miss extensive offseason workouts. An injury last summer shelved Green for all of 2019.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • The Ravens have seen 2018 third-round tight end Mark Andrews become Lamar Jackson‘s top target, leaving 2018 first-round tight end Hayden Hurst in a strange position. The former minor league baseball player-turned-South Carolina football prospect may be on the trade block, with Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweeting there is a “real chance” the Ravens trade Hurst. The former Pirates draftee played hurt as a rookie and caught 30 passes for 349 yards last season. Andrews caught 64 passes for a Ravens-most 852 yards in 2019. For what it’s worth, the tight end-needy Patriots have not contacted the Ravens about Hurst, Howe adds (on Twitter), but Hurst may be a name to monitor in Baltimore in the coming weeks.
  • The Browns will meet with Joe Schobert‘s agent at the Combine, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. After being so far apart on terms with ex-GM John Dorsey, Schobert is back in the picture to stay in Cleveland, Cabot adds. New GM Andrew Berry‘s hire has reopened the lines of communication with the Browns’ top tackler. Cleveland already has Christian Kirksey attached to a big contract, but the linebacker has struggled with injuries since signing that extension and may be a cap casualty.
  • David Njoku stands as player who likely would have been gone had Dorsey and Freddie Kitchens stayed in power, Cabot adds. But with Kevin Stefanski planning more two-tight end sets, the 2017 first-round pick looks likelier to stay in Cleveland. Having Berry back doesn’t hurt here, either, with the Sashi Brown-Berry-Paul DePodesta regime being in power when Njoku was drafted.
  • Although Dorsey upgraded the Browns’ talent level, his offensive line acquisitions did not pan out. The Browns will not re-sign Greg Robinson, and 2018 right tackle addition Chris Hubbard may be elsewhere next season as well. However, the Browns will likely spend big on at least one offensive lineman, Cabot adds. Jack Conklin, Brandon Scherff and Joe Thuney profile as the top targets who are in line to reach free agency.

Browns, Joe Schobert To Talk Extension Again

It looks like Joe Schobert might be getting an extension offer from the Browns after all. We heard back in November that the two sides had discussed a deal, but then a month later there was a report Cleveland wasn’t interested in extending him and was prepared to let him walk in free agency. 

A lot has happened with the franchise since then, including the firings of head coach Freddie Kitchens and GM John Dorsey, and now Schobert returning seems like a real possibility. Andrew Berry is in charge of the front office now, and Schobert said in a recent interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio that he’d already met with the new general manager, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Berry “said he’d be reaching out and talk to my agent over the course of the next couple weeks,” Schobert revealed.

Interestingly, Schobert confirmed that Dorsey’s firing helped spark hope of an agreement again. “[Berry and I have] communicated since [he’s] been hired, which kind of had broken down, I think, with the previous regime,” he said. The linebacker reiterated that he wants to stay a Brown, but was willing to move on as well. “If both sides can reach an agreement, then that’d be great. I’d love that, but you never know.”

Berry had declined to reveal whether he’d speak with Schobert’s reps at his introductory press conference, but it sounds like he will. As Ulrich points out, Berry was the vice president of player personnel in Cleveland back in 2016 when the Browns drafted Schobert in the fourth-round, and that connection certainly doesn’t hurt. The Wisconsin product has been playing at a high level the past few years, and he made the Pro Bowl in 2017. He started all 16 games this past year, racking up 133 tackles, four interceptions, two sacks, and nine passes defended.

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Browns Not Eager To Extend Joe Schobert

We heard about a month ago that the Browns had discussed an extension with linebacker Joe Schobert, but it doesn’t sound like there’s been much progress. Cleveland has “made little effort” to extend him and they “are willing to let him walk in free agency,” a source told Mary Kay Cabot of

Schobert said last month that his agent had conversations with the front office about a new deal, but Cabot reports that the two sides haven’t spoken in months and that when the subject was briefly discussed, it “was evident the franchise was not serious about re-signing him at that time.” That might rankle some Browns fans, as Schobert has been having a great season. Kay Cabot also writes that the figures that were discussed wouldn’t have even made Schobert the highest-paid linebacker on the team, a distinction currently held by Christian Kirksey and his $9.5MM average salary.

Schobert, a 2017 Pro Bowler, has the seventh-most tackles in the league this year. He also has two sacks, two forced fumbles, four interceptions, and nine passes defended. The Wisconsin product was originally drafted by the Browns in the fourth round back in 2016. He played a part-time role as a rookie before becoming a starter in his second season. He’s now playing out the final year of his rookie deal, and if the Browns don’t retain him he should have no shortage of suitors on the open market.

According to Kay Cabot Schobert recently acknowledged he might not get to stay a Brown, but said “in my perfect world, yeah, I’d be in Cleveland.” The Browns have obviously been having a disappointing season, and they could look to make major changes this spring. It’ll be very interesting to see what ends up happening with Schobert.

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Extra Points: Schobert, Panthers, Chargers

Joe Schobert is having one of his best NFL seasons, but the Browns haven’t reached out about signing the impending free agent. The linebacker told reporters that he hasn’t received any offers from the organization (via Mary Kay Cabot of on Twitter).

The former fourth-rounder earned a Pro Bowl nod back in 2017, and he’s followed that up with two additional 100-plus-tackle seasons. That includes the current 2019 campaign, as Schobert has compiled 110 tackles, two sacks, nine passes defended, four interceptions, and a pair of forced fumbles.

If the linebacker were to hit free agency, there would surely be teams lining up for his services. For what it’s worth, Schobert told reporters that in a “perfect world,” he’d be in a Cleveland uniform come 2020.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Kyle Allen has filled in admirably for Cam Newton, but it doesn’t sound like he has a solid hold on the Panthers starting gig for the rest of the season. Interim head coach Perry Fewell told reporters that the quarterback situation is a “day to day, week to week situation” (via The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue on Twitter). Even if Allen doesn’t struggle, it makes sense for Carolina to see what they’ve got in rookie third-rounder Will Grier. The West Virginia product hasn’t seen the field this season, while Allen has tossed 16 touchdowns vs. 12 interceptions in his 11 games (11 starts).
  • Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said it was a “coach’s decision” to send home linebacker Denzel Perryman and safety Roderic Teamer on Saturday, according to Jeff Miller of the LA Times (on Twitter). ESPN’s Eric Williams tweets that the pair missed a morning meeting in Jacksonville, all leading to Lynn’s decision. Perryman has started 11 games this season, while Teamer has appeared in seven games.
  • Cowboys safety Jeff Heath said he may need shoulder surgery to repair labrum damage (via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas News on Twitter). The 28-year-old continues to play through the injury, and Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets that there’s hope Heath can avoid the procedure until the offseason. The safety has started 10 games this season, compiling 45 tackles and five passes defended.

Browns, LB Joe Schobert Have Discussed Extension

Browns linebacker Joe Schobert may not be a household name, but he has quietly become one of the best young LBs in football. The 2017 Pro Bowler announced his presence on the national stage during Thursday night’s win over the Steelers, flying all over the field to post 10 total tackles, a sack, and two interceptions.

Schobert, 26, has been a full-time starter since 2017, and he has recorded over 100 tackles in each of the past two years (he already has 92 tackles this season). He does well against the pass and against the run, and he has played every defensive snap for the Browns this year.

The 2016 fourth-round pick is also playing out the final year of his rookie contract, and as Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal writes, the Browns and Schobert’s agent have discussed a contract extension. “They’ve had conversations,” Schobert said. “I just let him do his job and I just try to focus on football.” 

When asked if he was open to staying in Cleveland, Schobert didn’t exhibit unbridled excitement. “Sure,” he said. “You always want to have the long-term security and comfort knowing where you’re going to be and what team you’re going to be on and that kind of stuff.”

Schobert may not be in Bobby Wagner territory, but he will almost certainly crack the $10MM/year mark when he signs his next contract. A five-year, $65MM pact with around $35MM in guarantees sounds like a good bet.

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2019 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $2MM in 2019. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

Bears: RB Jordan Howard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

Broncos: G Connor McGovern, S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons

Browns: S Derrick Kindred, LB Joe Schobert

Buccaneers: G Caleb Benenoch, DE Carl Nassib, CB Ryan Smith

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown

Chiefs: CB Kendall Fuller, WR Tyreek Hill, S Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson

Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett, T Joe Haeg

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown, DT Maliek Collins, QB Dak Prescott

Dolphins: RB Kenyan Drake

Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, G Wes Schweitzer

Jaguars: DE Yannick Ngakoue

Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Rashard Robinson, T Brandon Shell

Lions: C Graham Glasgow

Packers: LB Kyler Fackrell, DE Dean Lowry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Antonio Morrison

Patriots: G Joe Thuney, LB Elandon Roberts

Rams: G Austin Blythe, TE Tyler Higbee

Ravens: DE Matt Judon, OL Alex Lewis, CB Tavon Young

Saints: DT David Onyemata

Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

Texans: DT D.J. Reader

Titans: S Kevin Byard, WR Tajae Sharpe was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Injury Notes: Fins, Falcons, Cowboys, Browns

The Dolphins have already ruled out quarterback Ryan Tannehill for their Week 7 contest against the Lions, and the NFL is now investigating how Miami handled reporting Tannehill’s shoulder injury in Week 6, as Cameron Wolfe of reports. Tannehill was a full participant in both Wednesday and Thursday practice last week, but was limited on Friday before being inactive against the Bears on Sunday. The league will often look into such cases where injury designations present something of a question mark; some clubs are subsequently fined, others are cleared, tweets Tom Pelissero of Without Tannehill available, Miami will once again deploy Brock Osweiler, who threw for a career-high 380 yards against Chicago.

Here’s more injury news from around the NFL:

  • Falcons running back Devonta Freeman will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair his groin injury, per Vaughn McClure of (Twitter link). Freeman’s recovery timeline isn’t yet clear, but reports yesterday did indicate that Freeman — who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday — could return later this season. Because he’s now on IR, Freeman must miss at least eight games before coming back. Various health issues have limited Freeman to just two games this season, during which he averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 14 touches. With Freeman unavailable, Atlanta will turn to a tandem of Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith in its backfield.
  • Tavon Austin is getting a second opinion on his groin injury in the near future, and the Cowboys will wait to hear that diagnosis before deciding on an injured reserve move, tweets Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram. Austin, who Dallas acquired from the Rams earlier this year, has lined up at both receiver and running back this season, managing seven receptions and six rushes on the year. If Austin is placed on IR, the Cowboys will continue to lean on an uninspiring group of pass-catchers that includes Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley, and Deonte Thompson. Dallas would need to find a new punt returner, as Austin has handled all but one of the club’s punt returns.
  • Browns linebacker Joe Schobert will be sidelined for “a little while” as he deals with with a hamstring injury, head coach Hue Jackson told reporters, including Mary Kay Cabot of (Twitter link). Losing Schobert for any amount of time is devastating for Cleveland, as he’s played nearly every snap on defense while ranking as a top-10 linebacker league-wide, per Pro Football Focus. With Schobert down, the Browns will likely deploy Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins as their nickel linebackers. Cleveland’s linebacker depth already took a hit earlier this week when James Burgess was placed on injured reserve.
  • Turning to the college game, Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a neck injury last weekend, according to Nick Suss of the Clarion-Ledger. Metcalf is a redshirt sophomore, so he could potentially enter the 2019 draft if he so chooses. But given his injury, Metcalf may choose to head back to school in order to put more highlights on tape. Per Suss, Metcalf is viewed as a potential Day 2 pick.