Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert were the Browns’ starting linebackers to begin this past season, and each of them have had years in the NFL in which they’ve been near or at the top of the league in tackles. Cleveland’s front office made the decision a few weeks ago that they weren’t going to be retaining either linebacker for 2020 — they cut Kirksey, and weren’t going to meet the dollar amount that Schobert wanted in free agency. Now, both players have new clubs.
Kirksey to the Packers
Let’s start with Kirksey, who was able to sign immediately with the Green Bay Packers on a 2-year deal worth $16 million. It’s a little funny because originally, it was believed that the Packers would be after Schobert. Kirksey couldn’t get as many years on his deal because of his injury history, but it makes sense that former Browns head coach Mike Pettine made the push to bring him to Green Bay.
Schobert to the Jaguars
The player who got the big bucks is Schobert, who will sign a 5-year, $53.75 million deal with $22.5 million guaranteed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. When I did my free agent review for the Browns, I was predicting a 4-year, $45 million deal with $26 million guaranteed. I was close on the per-year money, but my guaranteed prediction was a bit too high.
Former #Browns LB Joe Schobert is headed to the #Jaguars on a 5-year, $53.75M deal, source said. He gets an average of $10.75M per year. $12M to sign and $22.5M guaranteed. A new face on that Jax defense.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2020
What the Browns do Next at Linebacker
Cleveland has Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki at linebacker, but they will no doubt be looking to add at least one starting linebacker in free agency or the draft. That doesn’t mean it has to be a top-level player, but it’s a position that will have to be addressed sooner rather than later.