Joe Schobert was going about his business during a normal training camp day with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But as he was preparing to head to a team meeting, the veteran inside linebacker was asked to meet with Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke.
During the meeting, Baalke informed him that the Steelers called 12 hours earlier and were “very persistent” about completing a deal that would make him a Steeler. Just several hours later, the two sides came to terms on a trade that sent a sixth-round pick to Jacksonville in exchange for Schobert, a former Pro Bowler and of the league’s most versatile linebackers. The Jaguars will also reportedly pay over half of Schobert’s guaranteed salary for the 2021 season.
“I wasn’t sad, but it was kind of stressful, especially during the middle of training camp because I’ve got a wife and kids, a dog, house down in Jacksonville,” Schobert said of the trade following Sunday’s practice from Heinz Field, via Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider. “I’m gonna have to figure out the logistics of moving them up. But I wouldn’t say I was sad, no. Just a little stressful, a little shock to the system.
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“It came out of the blue from my perspective. There were no warning signs or any predetermined stuff. I was talking to the defensive coaches right after I talked to the general manager and they were pretty shocked about it, so I think it was just kind of something that came out of the blue and just happened.”
Schobert is the latest former Pro Bowler the Steelers have signed this offseason. In June, Pittsburgh signed five-time Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner following David DeCastro’s release. Less than a month later, the Steelers signed Turner’s former Chargers teammate, three-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Melvin Ingram. The acquisition of Schobert also brings to mind the Steelers signing of cornerback Joe Haden just before the start of the 2017 season. A two-time Pro Bowler with the Browns, Haden has enjoyed a career rebirth in Pittsburgh while helping the Steelers’ boast a top-five pass defense in three out of the last four years.
The Steelers are familiar with Schobert, who spent his first four NFL seasons in Cleveland before signing a five-year deal with the Jaguars last offseason. In Cleveland’s 2019 regular season win over Pittsburgh, Schobert tallied 10 tackles, a sack and two interceptions off of Mason Rudolph. Schobert will ask to wreak similar havoc against opposing quarterbacks in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are also hoping to utilize his ability in pass coverage. Along with being a tackling machine, Schobert has intercepted seven passes over the last two seasons.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said that productivity is the word that comes to mind when he thinks about his new linebacker. Tomlin added that the trade for Schobert “didn’t take us long to consider” given Schobert’s skill set and previous production.
“We’re excited about having him,” Tomlin said following Sunday’s practice, via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “He needs no endorsement from me. We’re familiar with him. Former AFC North guy, been highly productive in every circumstance that 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 plays a well-rounded game and so we’re excited about infusing him into what we do.”
Schobert spoke highly of new teammates Devin Bush and Robert Spillane, who handled the play calls and other verbal communication during Schobert’s first practice with his team team. Schobert also spoke highly of his new team, a team that has high hopes for 2021 after winning the AFC North last season for the first time since 2017.
“I think it’s a first-class organization,” Schobert said. “You can see that, obviously, through meetings, talking to coaches. Everybody’s been here a long time and people know what the standard is. It’s understood in meetings and practice how to take care of your body from the top down. It’s been nothing but a pleasant surprise for me, coming here.”