Cleveland Browns: Letting Joe Schobert walk unpopular but correct move
By Randy Gurzi
It appears the Cleveland Browns will be letting Joe Schobert walk in free agency. While this move is unpopular, general manager Andrew Berry is doing the right thing
The news that broke late Saturday night wasn’t unexpected but that doesn’t mean it was welcomed by fans of the Cleveland Browns. Throughout much of the 2019 season, fans were adamant that general manager John Dorsey should extend the contract of linebacker Joe Schobert.
That never happened which led to speculation that the former Pro Bowler could be on the move. However, some hope was renewed when Andrew Berry took over as GM following Dorsey’s departure. Perhaps a new voice would keep No. 53 in town.
It didn’t take long for that hope to fade as Schobert and the new staff weren’t locked in any discussions for a new deal. And now, it’s all but guaranteed he will be gone as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says he will hit free agency and isn’t coming back to The Land.
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According to Cabot, Berry and Schobert’s agent met during the Scouting Combine and the Browns decided the asking price was too rich to pay.
"“Browns GM Andrew Berry met with linebacker Joe Schobert’s agent, Joe Panos, in Indianapolis, and the two sides parted with the belief that Schobert will not be back with the Browns because they’re not prepared to pay him the double-digit millions he stands to make on the open market, a league source said.” — Cabot, Cleveland.com"
Clearly, this decision from Berry isn’t going to go over very well. But that doesn’t mean he’s making a mistake. In fact, letting Schobert hit the open market is the right move for this team, even if it’s hard.
This isn’t to say Schobert is a bad player, because he’s clearly not. He’s a smart linebacker who is constantly around the ball and one of the top tacklers in the NFL every season. This past season, Schobert was sixth overall in tackles according to Pro Football Reference with 133 tackles on the year.
The problem is, Schobert didn’t rack up many tackles for a loss in his career. This past season, he had just seven which was 82nd in the NFL. And that happened to be the most he had in his career so far. The lack of impact tackles is alarming and means his tackles aren’t the ones forcing teams to play behind the chains.
Schobert also had a massive dip in effectiveness according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). After earning a grade of 77.2 in 2018 (a career-best), Schobert finished with just a 59.1 last season which ranked 48th in the league for middle linebackers. Schobert also had 16 missed tackles, which tied him for the ninth most in the NFL.
In addition to the missed tackles, he also had some issues in the passing game. In 2019, he allowed a completion percentage of 69.1 which was a huge drop from the prior year when he allowed just 59.6 percent of the passes thrown his way to be caught. For Cleveland, this was problematic as the team struggled mightily in covering tight ends and running backs in the flat.
As already stated, Schobert is not a bad player. And in fact, he could very well go to another team and excel. But still, the asking price was more than Cleveland was willing to pay and they should be applauded for sticking to their guns.
They set a budget for their players and refused to go over that. This is how smart teams operate. They understand which positions are the most valuable and then decide what they will pay. If the demand from the player and his reps goes beyond that, they need to make the tough call and say goodbye.
It won’t be easy, but this was the right call by Andrew Berry and the new regime.