While there has been plenty of inconsistencies within the Cleveland Browns defense this season, a steadying force has been linebacker Joe Schobert.
The Wisconsin-product leads the Browns with 110 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.
Schobert is in the last year of his rookie deal after being selected in the fourth round by the Browns in 2016. Inking Schobert to a new deal won’t be cheap, but his high level of play should make it a priority moving forward.
That being said, Schobert says his side has not received any offers from the Browns.
“From my understanding we haven’t gotten any offers,” Schobert told reporters on Monday. “Can’t really build on it from there.”
He has expressed a desire to stay with Browns as well.
“In my perfect world, yeah, I’d be in Cleveland,” Schobert said.
Steve Wilks: Joe Schobert One of the Best Linebackers in the NFL
Behind Schobert on the depth chart is rookie Sione Takitaki out of BYU and he plays along side another first-year player in Mack Wilson. The Browns have utilized mostly a two-linebacker look, with the duo playing nearly triple the amount of snaps as the next linebacker, Adarius Taylor, who’s listed as the starter at the SAM linebacker position.
The Browns also have veteran inside linebacker Christan Kirksey inked to a deal until after the 2021 season.
Schobert has been the key piece for the defense, even with a new coordinator in Steve Wilks, who had high praise for the Browns’ tackling machine.
“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 said the success for Schobert starts in practice.
“I always say it starts in practice,” Wilks said. “I tell guys all the time you have to practice well for you to perform well in the game. 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.”
Analyzing the Market for Joe Schobert
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.
Behind them are the Cowboys Jaylon Smith — who signed a six-year, $68.4 million deal this offseason — and Panthers perennial Pro Bowler Luke Kuechly (five years, $61.8 million).
There might not be too many outside of Cleveland clamoring for Schobert, but as a Pro Bowl talent with a clean injury history and his best years in front of him, he should still be able to land a deal that puts him among the top 10 paid inside linebacker in the league.