Joe Schobert is one of the AFC’s most productive linebackers, but it appears the former fourth-round pick is going to hit the open market instead of returning to the Cleveland Browns.
Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reported on Saturday that Browns are “willing to let him walk in free agency”
The team has not made it a priority to keep contract negotiations ongoing or really going at all with Schobert, who was selected with the 99th over pick in the 2016 draft. The Wisconsin-product is on the last year of his rookie deal and will become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Schobert made no secret that contract negotiations were non-existent when he spoke to the media this week.
“I let my agent handle all this kind of stuff, but my understanding is we haven’t gotten any offers so can’t really build on it from there,” Schobert said.
Joe Schobert Has Put up Massive Numbers with Browns
Schobert leads the Browns and is second in the AFC with 11 tackles, nine passes defended and four interceptions.
He also has two sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. In short, he’s been Cleveland’s best defender this season, especially in the absence of Myles Garrett, who is suspended indefinitely.
And he’s no one-year-wonder. Since taking over as a full time starter in 2017, Schobert has notched 100-plus tackles, also showing huge progression defending the pass. He made the Pro Bowl in 2018 after a season that included 142 tackles. He appears to be on the track again.
Schobert has expressed interest to stay with the Browns.
“My No. 1 priority is to play the season out and do the best of my abilities and control what I can control,” he told reporters. “I can’t really control what’s going on, what’s being said upstairs to my agent and them. I trust my agent. He’s going to do what’s best for me. I trust the Browns are going to do what’s best for the organization. In my perfect world, yeah, I’d be in Cleveland.”
How Much Would Joe Schobert Cost the Browns?
Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey averages $9.5 million and Cabot reported the “preliminary figures” for Schobert wouldn’t have him exceed that. Kirksey is out for the year with a pectoral injury and has played in just nine games the last two seasons combined.
CJ Mosley is currently the highest-paid inside linebacker in the league, signing a five-year, $85 million deal this offseason with the Jets. He earns $17 million per season and received $43 million in guaranteed money. Seattle star LB Bobby Wagner makes the highest annual salary at $18 million per year.
Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks put Schobert up there with the best at his position in the NFL.
“Joe is playing at a high level. Probably one of the best linebackers in the league right now in how he is performing,” Wilks said. “He is a leader for us. He commands the defense out there, getting everybody aligned and things that we ask of him. I am excited about his performance thus far this year, and hopefully, he can keep it going.”
Wilks commended Schobert for setting the tone in practice.
“I tell guys all the time you have to practice well for you to perform well in the game,” Wilks said. “Joe has that consistency every day in practice.
“He is smart, he understands, he studies film and he has great anticipated in exactly what is coming. We always talk about the formation is talking to you, and you have to listen with your eyes. He does some great things in regards to that pre-snap/post-snap play, and he puts himself in position to make plays.”