Joe Schobert

Saints Hosting LB Joe Schobert

Free agent Joe Schobert may be on his way to the NFC for the first time in his career. The veteran linebacker is visiting the Saints, per Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football (Twitter link). 

Schobert, 28, was a fourth round pick of the Browns in 2016. He played sparingly on defense as a rookie, but took on a starter’s workload the following season. That year, he took a major step forward, leading the league in tackles with 144. He added three sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception, en route to being named a Pro Bowler.

The Wisconsin alum remained a full-time starter and key contributor for the Browns until he hit free agency in 2020. On the open market, he landed a five-year, $53.75MM contract with the Jaguars. Despite playing a full season and leading Jacksonville in tackles, Schobert found himself on the move once again just one season into that new deal.

Traded to the Steelers as the Jaguars looked to clean house amongst many of their veterans, Schobert spent last season in Pittsburgh. He continued to fill the stat sheet with 112 tackles, an interception and six pass deflections, but was nevertheless a significant member of the league’s worst run defense. At the end of the year, he was cut in a cost-saving move, as the team turned to Myles Jack as a replacement.

In New Orleans, Schobert could provide experienced depth at a minimum to the team’s linebacking corps. The Saints appear set to lose Kwon Alexander, who has been linked to the Jets multiple times this offseason. On, presumably, a much smaller free agent deal than the last one he signed, Schobert could be another effective veteran on the team’s re-vamped defense.

Inside Linebacker Market

There are many inside linebackers waiting patiently on the open market. A wild first week of free agency has come and gone with other positions seeing record deals and big names moving. The market for inside linebackers, however, has been quiet and less than lucrative.

In years past, we’ve seen monster deals to players like C.J. Mosley, whose contract has an average annual value of $17MM and guaranteed him $43MM at signing, and Darius Leonard, whose contract has an average annual value of $19.7MM and guaranteed him $33MM at signing. The largest payout we’ve seen this offseason to an inside linebacker was when the Packers kept De’Vondre Campbell from entering free agency with a five-year, $50MM deal, with a guaranteed $15MM. It’s certainly an impressive deal, and one the esteemed linebacker deserves, but no other deals have come close.

After being cut by the Jaguars, Myles Jack signed a two-year, $16MM deal to become a Steeler. Josey Jewell remained with the Broncos after signing a two-year, $11MM deal. Minnesota’s new inside linebacker, Jordan Hicks, joined the Vikings on a two-year, $10MM contract. Christian Kirksey signed a similar deal to remain with the Texans. We’ve seen a few other small deals like Zaire Franklin signing a three-year, $10MM deal to remain in Indianapolis and Alex Anzalone signing a one-year, $2.25MM contract to play another year with the Lions.

While that may sound pretty active, there are many big names who have yet to find deals. The biggest of these names is Bobby Wagner. Cut after ten outstanding years in Seattle, Wagner was expected to be a highly sought after free agent. While there have been many teams who’ve voiced interest in the eight-time All-Pro, there has been no word of negotiations. Any deal Wagner signs will likely top the numbers posed by Campbell and the Packers, but the fact that he has yet to find a home may hint at the fact that the money he’s looking for isn’t being offered.

There are many other impact names on the open market: Kwon Alexander, Jayon Brown, Jarrad Davis, Dont’a Hightower, Anthony Hitchens, Nick Kwiatkoski, Reggie Ragland, Joe Schobert, and Danny Trevathan.

Due to the low spending we’ve seen thus far and the plethora of names available, these players will likely have to search for the right fit and accept a decent deal if offered. They may end up having to wait until injuries provide an opportunity for them to fill in on a roster. The exception, of course, is Wagner, who can afford to be patient. Wagner will have the luxury of being able to wait and see how rosters form throughout the league, biding his time until he’s sure he’s joining a contender. Look for the others to give up on looking for a lucrative payday and settle for decent deals from teams with schemes they like.

Steelers Cut Joe Schobert

The Steelers have released Joe Schobert, per an official team press release. With free agency underway, the inside linebacker is now free to sign with any club in the NFL.

[RELATED: Steelers To Sign M. Jack]

Schobert — a.k.a. Joe-bert or Joe The Show — worked as a Browns starter for three seasons. He 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. Then, he signed with the Jaguars in 2020 on a five-year, $53.75MM deal. The veteran ‘backer paced the Jags in tackles in 2020 (141 stops), but the effort came for a historically dreadful team. So, in August of 2021, the Jags shipped him to the Steelers for a 2022 sixth-rounder.

Schobert saw time in 16 games last year for the Steelers, including 15 starts. He notched 112 tackles, one interception, and six passes defensed, but the Steelers didn’t think he was worth his contract. They’ll save $7.8MM by releasing him with a modest $1.88MM in dead money left over.

There wasn’t much room for the 28-year-old (29 in November) following the addition of Myles Jack. Jack also comes at a cheaper rate with a two-year, $16MM deal.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/4/22-1/5/22

Here are Tuesday and Wednesday’s activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Jared Cook, LB Damon Lloyd (remains on IR)

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/31/21

Here are the New Year’s Eve additions and subtractions from teams’ reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

  • Activated from practice squad virus list: T Drew Himmelman, LB Barrington Wade

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

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).

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.

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.

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.