As always, there are two sides to this Joe Schobert story.
On Sunday following a closed practice at Heinz Field, the newest Steeler spoke to reporters, expressing his excitement to join the Steelers and return to the AFC North. However, Schobert did drop an interesting nugget during his media session Sunday, stating that current Jacksonville Jaguars’ general manager Trent Baalke told him the Steelers were persistent in their pursuit of the veteran linebacker, via Ray Fittipaldo’s tweet from Sunday’s press conference.
Joe Schobert said Jags GM Trent Baalke told him the Steelers called early Thursday and were very persistent in their pursuit of him. That’s a different story than Mike Tomlin told yesterday when he said Schobert was presented to them. 🤔
— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) August 15, 2021
“The general manager [Baalke] just told me that Pittsburgh called 12 hours before I had a meeting with them,” Schobert told reporters Sunday. “And he said they were very persistent in trying to get a deal done to get me up here. So that was the reason that he said he’s like, ‘there’s a good situation and I wouldn’t put you in it if it wasn’t a good situation for you and your family, um, coming up to Pittsburgh, being on a good team.’ So that’s what, that’s what I was told.”
Schobert’s statement regarding what Baalke told him doesn’t match what Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin said Saturday following practice when ESPN’s Brooke Pryor asked him if the franchise had been looking to add another veteran inside linebacker after Vince Williams’ retirement or if Schobert was just available?
“It was available,” Tomlin said to reporters. “It presented itself to us, but it didn’t take us long to consider it because we’re highly familiar with his skillset and productivity.”
Well, what’s the truth? Probably somewhere in between.
There’s no doubt this is a salary dump by the Jaguars, considering they’re paying $3.65 million in 2021 to dump Schobert from the books while taking a 2022 sixth-round draft pick in return for a linebacker that the franchise just signed to a five-year, $53 million deal in free agency in 2020.
Granted, it’s a new regime in Jacksonville, so it’s understandable why they moved on from him so quickly. It’s not an indictment of the player in my mind.
However, it’s highly unlikely the Steelers have been pursuing Schobert, considering they were all in on Robert Spillane prior to the second preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, a game in which Spillane struggled mightily in coverage once again.
The deal likely materialized on Wednesday or Thursday at some point, and the Steelers jumped at it, adding a guy they’re very familiar with in Schobert and nearly half of his salary being paid for by the Jaguars, all the while parting with a late Day 3 draft pick.
Regardless of what the truth really is in terms of how the deal developed, the Steelers are all the better for it coming together, adding a linebacker the caliber of Schobert next to third-year linebacker Devin Bush for the next 3-4 years.