Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: ILB Joe Schobert
Stock Value: Sold
Reasoning: After the Steelers agreed to terms on a two-year, $16 million contract with inside linebacker Myles Jack, they released Joe Schobert at the same position, who was a likely candidate for release due to his salary even prior to that signing.
If I had to pick one single specific roster move that was most expected to be made by the Steelers this offseason, it would probably be the releasing of Joe Schobert. Acquired via trade for a sixth-round pick last August, the former Pro Bowler had a thoroughly mediocre season for Pittsburgh, making it hard to justify barely-adequate play for a salary north of $8 million.
With the signing of Jack—his former 2020 Jacksonville Jaguars teammate—they actually reduce their overall 2022 salary cap figure by a few million dollars by taking Schobert off the books, and they almost surely upgrade the inside linebacker position while doing so (of course, Jack’s cap hit for 2023 will be elevated, but they could look to extend him if they like what they’ve gotten out of him by then).
More than any other team, the Steelers like to take their roster into training camp and give it a final evaluation to see what they need, and then they typically make at least one trade to bring somebody in where they feel it’s needed. Sometimes they make two trades, as they did last year, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon being the other.
In Schobert’s case, the Steelers did have Vince Williams retire prior to the start of training camp. They were set to start Devin Bush and Robert Spillane at inside linebacker, the former coming off of a torn ACL, prior to the Schobert trade going through.
Now with Jack already in place in March, they will have a full offseason to work their starting inside linebacker duo together—and hopefully behind a full complement of defensive linemen in front of them as well, though that remains to be seen. Schobert has had no reported free agency interest since his release last week.