Browns linebacker Joe Schobert expected to sign elsewhere in free agency, per report


The Cleveland Browns and representation for inside linebacker Joe Schobert met in Indianapolis this week. The conversation led to the conclusion that Schobert will hit free agency. He is not expected to return to Cleveland, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com

Schobert is reportedly seeking about $10 million annually, which is apparently too steep for the Browns. Executive vice president of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry acknowledged earlier this week that production must meet contract demands.

“Joe is a good player and an even better person. We’re going to spend some time with his representation [Joe Panos] this week to talk through his contractual situation. He’s obviously earned the right to test the market if he deems that appropriate. But it’s one of those situations where we like Joe. It obviously has to work for both sides. It has to work for us from a cost perspective with our long-term roster strategy, and obviously it has to be a fit for Joe and his family as well,” Berry said, via Cleveland.com.

Schobert, 26, was taken in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The one-time Pro Bowl selection recorded 133 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and four interceptions this season. Beyond his production, he adds a lot of value as a leader and communicator on the field and in the locker room.

Fans in Cleveland should be concerned. Berry was a part of the operation that allowed the purge of talent in 2016. Center Alex Mack, offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, wide receiver Travis Benjamin and safety Tashaun Gipson all signed elsewhere.

The Browns rank in the top half of the NFL in salary cap space. They could clear an additional $30 million in salary cap space with the release of defensive end Olivier Vernon, outside linebacker Christian Kirksey and right tackle Chris Hubbard. The AFC North franchise should not be far from competing in 2020, so the idea of creating more voids on the roster is a bold strategy. 





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