July has gloriously arrived and football fans are holding onto hope for an NFL season kicking off in just two months.
Summer is notoriously a time for NFL roster examination so we are diving into the biggest Cleveland Browns subtraction heading into 2020.
Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, Offensive Tackles Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr. and Tight End Austin Hooper are among the best new faces while Linebacker Joe Schobert, Christian Kirksey, Damarious Randall, Morgan Burnett, and Offensive Lineman Justin McCray headline the list of departing players.
Missing Defensive Playmaker: Joe Schobert
Joe Schobert was a bit of an anonymous player in Cleveland throughout his four-year Browns career.
The 2016 fourth-round draft pick from Wisconsin began as a special teams stalwart.
But he then transitioned into a reliable tackler at the Middle Linebacker position.
You might be surprised to learn Schobert played in all but 3 total games for the Browns since the 2016 season began.
In 2017, his second pro season, he was selected to the Pro Bowl after logging 144 tackles, 6 QB hits and 3 sacks.
Schobert had more than 100 tackles in each of the last three seasons.
Last season, he also added four interceptions, two forced fumbles and one epic fumble recovery.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 23, 2019
That many tackles will not be easy to replace on the Browns defense.
But Schobert earned his new contract from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
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
It’s a deal the Browns clearly were not prepared to match.
Replacing Schobert In 2020
Adding to the loss of Schobert is the Browns inexperience at the linebacker position.
You can argue it’s the weakest position in Cleveland on either side of the ball following key additions on the defensive line, secondary and offensive line.
2020 third-round draft pick Jacob Phillips out of LSU also serves as an intriguing option.
New #Browns LB Jacob Phillips only missed three of his 88 tackle attempts in 2019.
The best tackler in college football. pic.twitter.com/pNdyiYMWiV
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) April 25, 2020
The inexperience at this position is apparent and therefore surprising that the Browns did not make more of an effort to retain Schobert.
He may not have been valued at $53 million but the Browns have cap space to add to the position.
The good news for Browns Nation is quality options remain on the free-agent market.
But the truth is, the Browns youngsters at the position will have to step up if they are to come anywhere close to the 133 tackles Schobert recorded in 2019.