The Cleveland Browns are not expected to retain middle linebacker Joe Schobert, who is an unrestricted free agent.
That is according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, citing an unnamed league source who believes the Browns are not willing to pay Schobert’s expected asking price of more than $10 million a year.
It's no longer Scho-time in Cleveland: LB Joe Schobert will hit the free agent market and won't be back with the #Browns, who aren't willing to meet his $10M-plus market price, source says https://t.co/XSupyDhHBo— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) February 29, 2020
Rather than use some of their expected $61 million-plus in cap space to keep Schobert, the Browns are planning to make a “big investment in the offensive line,” according to Cabot.
It was just two weeks ago that Schobert was on SiriusXM NFL Radio and said that he wants to return to the Browns and was hopeful that a deal could be worked out now that Andrew Berry was sitting in the general manager’s chair.
Berry alluded to the Schobert situation earlier this week while meeting with the media at the NFL Combine and talked about his desire to work out deals with the team’s core players before they reach free agency, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
”That is one of the things that we believe at our core that we are going to be aggressive in engaging in pre-market extensions for players that we view as pillar players — long-term fits for the organization. That does present its challenges, but those are challenges that we’re going to have to face every year.”
A fourth-round draft pick in 2016, Schobert took over as a full-time starter in 2017. That season he led the NFL with 144 tackles and was selected to the Pro Bowl. This past season may have been his best, even if it did not result in a Pro Bowl nod, as Schobert finished with 133 tackles, four interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Since joining the starting lineup, Schobert has also only missed three games, all in 2018 with a hamstring injury, meaning that he is a productive and dependable player.
The Browns could have avoided the situation if former general manager John Dorsey had worked out a new contract with Schobert last fall, but Dorsey broke off talks with Schobert’s representatives, apparently not believing that Schobert was one of his coveted “real players.”
Dorsey also made a complete mess of the offensive line, which is why the Browns are now in a position where they have to reportedly make a “big investment in the offensive line,” causing a ripple effect where they may lose Schobert, which creates another hole that Berry has to fill this offseason.
Berry definitely has his hands full cleaning up the mess he inherited.