(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
The Steelers' trade for inside linebacker Joe Schobert was made official today. And according to Bob Labriola, it was the Jaguars who reached out to the Steelers about Schobert being on the trade block.
The Steelers desperately needed another inside linebacker to start opposite of Devin Bush, as Vince Williams retired on the eve of training camp and Robert Spillane has struggled in pass coverage throughout training camp and the first two preseason games. So, the situation worked out perfectly. And to top it all off, the Steelers gave up just a sixth-round pick in 2022 for a Pro Bowl inside linebacker.
“It presented itself to us, but it didn’t take us long to consider it because we’re highly familiar with his skill set and productivity,” Mike Tomlin said after practice on Saturday when asked about trading for Schobert.
First-year head coach Urban Meyer wasn't a part of signing Schobert in 2020 and wanted to dump his expensive contract, so the Steelers will now take on the $7 million that he's owed for 2021. The Steelers previously had around $12 million in cap space, and Schobert fills a need, so it was really a no-brainer for Kevin Colbert and company to trade for his services, especially considering what they had to give up for him. It's a low-risk, high-reward move.
Schobert, 27, signed a five-year, $53.75 million deal with Jaguars before the 2020 season. He started all 16 games for Jacksonville last season, making 141 tackles with three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He also returned one of his interceptions for a touchdown.
Schobert was a fourth-round pick by the Browns in 2016 and he started 49 games during his tenure in Cleveland. Schobert led the league in tackles in 2017 with 144 when he made his only Pro Bowl.
Over the past two seasons, Schobert has recorded seven interceptions, 4.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Schobert had a career-high four interceptions in 2019 with Cleveland. Schobert excels in pass coverage, which exactly what the Steelers need.
Schobert picked off Mason Rudolph twice when the Steelers played the Browns in Week 11 of the 2019 season, along with recording 10 tackles in the game.
“Productivity when I think of Joe,” Tomlin said. “He needs no endorsement from me. We’re familiar with him. He’s a former AFC North guy. He’s been highly productive in every circumstance he’s been in. He’s a sideline-to-sideline tackler. He’s good in coverage. He has coverage production in terms of interceptions. He has sack production. He has a well-rounded game so we’re excited about infusing him into what we do.”
Schobert was at Heinz Field on Saturday but wasn't able to practice because of COVID-19 protocols. Tomlin said he'll practice on Sunday.