The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor is heading into free agency, as is Trai Turner.
These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Will the Steelers be releasing inside linebacker Joe Schobert?
While most were already anticipated, the Steelers made a flurry of moves on the first day of free agency. They haven’t officially announced the new signings yet, but they have press conferences scheduled for them this morning through the afternoon, so it would be a bit presumptuous to hold a press conference for a player who’s not on your team.
They added another late surprise during the day, or so it is anticipated, when it was announced that they intend to sign former Jacksonville Jaguars inside linebacker Myles Jack, on a contract reportedly worth $16 million over two seasons.
Jack was under contract just a short time ago, but suddenly came available when the Jaguars decided to release him, so they couldn’t have planned on him being available. But it raises the question of whether his former Jaguars teammate—Joe Schobert, for whom they traded in August—will be getting the short end of the stick.
It was already speculated heavily that Schobert would be released following one season of largely mediocre play that doesn’t reflect the $8.75 million in base salary he is due for 2022. That’s more than they’re due to pay Jack, who should be an upgrade.
The Steelers have already released tackle Zach Banner, the other player widely expected to be released, but that was after re-signing Chukwuma Okorafor. Will they release Schobert after Jack has his physical and officially signs?
I would imagine that they very well might, especially if Schobert requests an early release, anticipating that it could come down the line anyway, so he can get a jump on another job. But it’s not a shoo-in that they cut him at all.
They did trade for him because they liked him, and he did have to jump in practically mid-season and learn on the fly. With a full offseason, it’s inevitable that he would look and play more comfortably. But at that price tag?
That’s up to them to decide, of course. They could offer him a pay cut, or do what the Cleveland Browns did and turn some of his salary into incentives—although they got Jack Conklin to agree to that by guaranteeing the rest of his salary, which they probably wouldn’t want to do.
But then you look at the roster, and you see Devin Bush and Robert Spillane as the most likely starters opposite Jack if Schobert is released. They obviously saw Jack as an upgrade, but how do they feel about the rest of their inside linebacker room? What about Buddy Johnson? Do they think he could potentially be their buck next to Jack at the mack?