As of now, the Cleveland Browns appear to be leaning towards not giving middle linebacker Joe Schobert a long-term contract.
However, their decision could be swayed based on their decision of defensive end Olivier Vernon.
In order to tag Schobert, the Browns would need to cough up $16 million in salary.
If the Browns were to cut Vernon, the team saves about $15 million towards the cap.
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) February 24, 2020
Would it be wise to keep Schobert at the expense of Vernon?
First, let’s dive into why the Browns would consider moving on from Vernon.
Vernon is 29-years old and due $15.25 million in the second year of his deal with the Browns; however, none of it is guaranteed.
Former general manager, John Dorsey, acquired Vernon in a trade with the New York Giants for Kevin Zeitler.
Vernon missed the second half of the season with a knee injury.
With that being said, Vernon was paid a high salary for 3.5 sacks in 10 games.
As of now, he is the highest-paid player on the team.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, if Vernon wants to stay, he would have to accept a pay cut.
Vernon Should Stay
In simplistic terms, the Browns need to keep Vernon.
When Vernon is healthy he is one of the better pass rushers in the league.
His knee injury cost him part of last season but in the grander scheme of life, the film does not lie.
Morgan Burnett got the 3rd fastest sack in the NFL in Week 1 (via NFL NextGen Stats) here. Shouts to Olivier Vernon and Devaroe Lawrence for drawing double teams at the line to make this possible. pic.twitter.com/GOnypiQ7ll
— Cleveland Browns Gifs (@DawgPoundGifs) September 11, 2019
When Vernon was traded from the Giants, he was coming off his first career Pro Bowl appearance.
Again, his numbers prove that, when healthy, he can be a force on the defensive end.
Looking at his final year with the Giants, Vernon had 21 QB hits.
That’s more than twice any other player and he missed 5 games.
Vernon Likely Gone
From what the reports say, Vernon is unlikely going to take a pay cut.
That is unfortunate because he could be a force on defense under new defensive coordinator Joe Woods.
That means that Schobert is warming up towards a return after it was reported the Browns were willing to let him walk.
If the Browns lose both Schobert and Vernon though, there will certainly be a lot of questions to answer.