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NFL free agency 2020: LB Joe Schobert will hit free-agent market, should Giants be in pursuit?

Schobert is a three-down linebacker with coverage skills

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Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
Joe Schobert
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

With the news that off-the-ball linebacker Joe Schobert will not be back with the Cleveland Browns, let’s look at whether signing Schobert in free agency makes sense for the New York Giants.

The basics

Age: 26
Height: 6-foot-1 | Weight: 245
Position: Linebacker
Experience: 4 seasons
2019 cap hit: $21.18 million
2019 stats: Games: 16 (all starts) | Snaps: 1,059 | Tackles; 133 (7 for loss) | Sacks: 2.0 | Passes defensed: 9 | Interceptions: 4 | Forced fumbles: 2 (1 fumble recovery)

Pro Football Focus: Overall grade: 59.1 | Run defense: 47.1 | Pass defense: 67.6 | Missed tackles: 15 | Tackling efficiency: 15th of 24 qualifying linebackers (1 miss every 9.5 attempts) | Passer rating against: 101.4

The skinny

Pro Football Focus hints that there might be untapped pass rush potential with Schobert:

There’s been a distinct line between Schobert’s play in the run game (where he’s graded at 55.0 or below over the last two years) and in coverage (where he graded at an excellent 87.7 in 2018 and a solid 67.6 last year). He finished 2019 with four interceptions and four pass breakups, and he’s transitioned nicely from college pass-rusher to valuable coverage linebacker. In a new system, that pass-rushing ability could come in handy, as he only rushed the passer 62 times last season after rushing over 100 times in his previous two years as a starter.

Reporting from Cleveland states that the Browns are apparently unwilling to meet Schobert’s price tag of $10 million per year or more. That, though, appears to be right in line with his expected market value.

Over The Cap expects Schobert to command a contract in the neighborhood of four years and $44 million ($11 million per years) with $27 million guaranteed.

Here is Browns’ GM Andrew Berry on Schobert:

“Joe is a good player and an even better person,’’ Berry said during his podium interview. “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.”

The Giants have already cut defensive captain Alec Ogletree and are going to have to re-stock the off-the-ball linebacker group. Among players currently on the roster, only second-year man Ryan Connelly looks like a player who could be expected to contribute, and Connelly is rehabbing a torn ACL.

Draft options might include Isaiah Simmons, if you consider him a linebacker, Zack Baun of Wisconsin, Patrick Queen of LSU and Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma.

At a price tag of $10 million or more per year, is Schobert a player you would like to see the Giants pursue?