Joe Schobert

AFC North Notes: Lamar, Schobert, Browns

Even after Josh Allen‘s Bills extension, the Ravens and Lamar Jackson are continuing their methodical approach to what will be the biggest contract in franchise history. Although Jackson expressed happiness for Allen landing a $43MM-per-year deal with a record guarantee, the fourth-year Baltimore quarterback said his extension will come in due time. John Harbaugh, who has said Jackson will be extended either this year or next, added (via Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed) that Allen’s deal does not change anything regarding the Ravens’ negotiations with Jackson. Allen’s deal almost certainly will affect Jackson’s, potentially setting up the 2019 MVP to command a Patrick Mahomes-level salary without the 10-year commitment.

The quarterback market catching up to Mahomes’ $45MM AAV so quickly may make things interesting in Kansas City in the coming years, with the 2018 MVP signed through 2031. The bulk of the recent big-ticket quarterback contracts have come before passers’ fourth seasons, so time is running short for the Ravens and their agentless QB to agree on a deal that will allow Jackson to make more than $1.78MM this year.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Shortly after trading for Joe Schobert, the Steelers have restructured the veteran linebacker’s contract. Schobert’s 2021 cap number has dropped to $1.74MM, with Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeting the move will create nearly $2MM in cap space. The Steelers frequently restructure contracts to create cap space, and the team has a rather critical contract to complete soon. T.J. Watt has gone through with a partial hold-in, staying out of team drills until he lands an extension. The Steelers are not believed to be eyeing a Minkah Fitzpatrick re-up until next year, with the safety under contract through the 2022 season, putting a Watt deal center stage. Watt’s contract is up after 2021.
  • The Steelers are preparing Schobert for a big workload. The former Browns linebacker is slated to start, be Pittsburgh’s dime ‘backer and wear the green dot that signifies he will communicate with coaches pre-snap, Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com tweets. Quite the plan for a player who has been with the team less than a week, but Schobert played 99% of his team’s defensive snaps in each of the past two seasons. Pittsburgh’s designs for Schobert will mark a transition for Devin Bush, but Steelers DC Keith Butler said (via The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette; subscription required) the team wants the former first-round pick to focus solely on returning to full strength. Bush is coming back after suffering an ACL tear last October.
  • Grant Delpit‘s comeback continues to hit snags. Completing a return from the Achilles rupture he suffered last August, Delpit injured his hamstring after just nine practice snaps. The Browns safety has since aggravated that hamstring issue and will miss more time, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. Delpit was already iffy for Cleveland’s Week 1 game in Kansas City. The LSU product missing the start of the Browns’ season now looks likelier.

Steelers To Acquire Joe Schobert From Jags

Aug. 15: The Jags are paying $3.65MM of Schobert’s 2021 pay, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. That is exactly half of Schobert’s $7MM base salary plus $300K in per-game roster bonuses. Schobert is also converting $2.36MM of his remaining salary into a signing bonus in order to decrease his cap charge on Pittsburgh’s 2021 books.

Schobert’s non-guaranteed salaries of $8.75MM, $10.25MM, and $10.75MM from 2022-24 will remain unchanged.

Aug. 12: Joe Schobert is headed back to the AFC North. The Jaguars are trading the veteran linebacker to the Steelers, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). The Steelers will send a 2022 sixth-round pick to the Jags to complete this deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Schobert will end up having spent just one season in Jacksonville, with the team’s new regime moving in a different direction. The Steelers will pick up the sixth-year vet’s five-year, $53.75MM contract. This addition comes a few weeks after longtime Pittsburgh inside linebacker Vince Williams announced his retirement.

The Steelers are plenty familiar with Schobert, who worked as a Browns starter for three seasons prior to his March 2020 departure for Jacksonville. Schobert led the NFL with 144 tackles in 2017, earning him a Pro Bowl nod, and he led the Browns in stops in 2018 and ’19 as well. Schobert, 27, paced the Jags in tackles in 2020, with 141, but the effort came for a team that capped a 15-game losing streak that produced the No. 1 overall pick. That led Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer to Jacksonville, where changes are taking place.

Pittsburgh has Devin Bush returning from a torn ACL; Schobert will provide the team with a proven starter alongside its 2019 first-round pick. A former fourth-round pick out of Wisconsin, Schobert is set to earn $7MM in base salary this year. This move will hand the Jaguars a few million in dead-money charges, but the team leads the NFL in cap space as of Thursday.

Mike Tomlin has been high on Schobert’s coverage ability for a while, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (via Twitter). Pro Football Focus did not view Schobert as a plus coverage ‘backer in 2020, but he graded in the top 15 overall at the position in 2018. Schobert will soon adjust to his fourth defensive system in four seasons. Of course, that was already the case with the Jaguars retooling their staff under Meyer.

Schobert and Myles Jack resided as the most productive players in the Jags’ lineup last season, with numerous backups joining them in the lineup as the season careened off course. The team has since signed Damien Wilson and used a fourth-round pick on Jordan Smith at linebacker. They also added ex-Alabama standout Dylan Moses as a UDFA, though he remains on the team’s NFI list.

Bold Take Pod’s Eric Dilla was the first to report a trade was in the works (Twitter link).

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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 ESPN.com (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 NFL.com’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 Cleveland.com.

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 Packersnews.com.

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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 NFL.com’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 Cleveland.com.

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 Cleveland.com 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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