If you haven’t heard, the Jacksonville Jaguars are trading LB Joe Schobert to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The news first broke late last night on Twitter, with compensation coming earlier today. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Jaguars will receive “late round draft compensation” in exchange for the linebacker.
So what does this mean for the Jaguars? Well, I have a few thoughts:
This feels more like an indictment on Dave Caldwell than Trent Baalke
Last year, Joe Schobert signed with the Jaguars on a five year, $53.75 million contract with $21.5 million guaranteed. Schobert was brought in to be the thunder to Myles Jack’s lightning, a guy who could make up for where Myles Jack lacked (i.e., stopping the run). However, Jack and Schobert were almost the same player in terms of stopping the run and pass coverage. Take this graph made by ESPN’s Seth Walder tracking run stop win rate and pass EPA allowed per snap. If you just look at the numbers, Jack and Schobert grade out almost similarly, with Schobert being worse against the pass, while being better against the run, but only by 13 spots(Jack 40th, Schobert 27th). Redundancy is a killer in the NFL, especially when you’re paying $21.5 million guaranteed to be redundant.
Quantifying off-ball LBs can be tough, partially because they play a role in coverage, run stop and pass rush.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) August 9, 2021
Here's a plot getting at all 3. Run Stop Win Rate (x) by EPA per coverage snap allowed (y), with color indicating Pass Rush Win Rate. Up/Right/Red = good.
Some notes: pic.twitter.com/KAFhiSRFC0
Schobert 27th, Jack 40th— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) July 21, 2021
(out of 70)
The Jaguars are banking high on Damien Wilson right now, and Shaquille Quarterman(and possibly Dylan Moses) in the future
When Damien Wilson signed a one year, $2 million contract with the Jaguars, I didn’t expect him to be a serious threat for the starting MIKE linebacker job. However, Wilson has impressed coaches and is viewed as the better run stopper and helps the Jaguars in that bracket, where they were abysmal last year.
However, Wilson is only on a one year contract, and barring any outstanding play from the LB, he may not be the long term answer. That may come in the form of second year LB Shaquille Quarterman. According to reports, he has impressed in camp and is a favorite of coaches. Having a LB like Quarterman who is best against the run and still be on a rookie contract will help the Jaguars in the future when it comes to cap space.
Few things about timing of #Jaguars trading LB Joe Schobert to Pittsburgh: #Steelers were desperate for depth there, plus Jags feel FA Damien Wilson is much better run stopper and they like Shaq Quarterman’s development. Also Schobert had team’s 4th-highest cap number at $9.882M— Eugene Frenette (@GeneFrenette) August 13, 2021
A wild card in this whole plan, however, is the health and potential of Dylan Moses. The Jaguars signed Moses as an undrafted free agent, and he is currently on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list. If Moses can regain his pre-knee injury level of play, he could also be it next to Myles Jack, and offer more athletic upside than Quarterman and Wilson.
P.S. Expect to see a lot of DBs on the field at the same time: they didn’t sign a lot of DBs for no reason.
The Money was Actin’ Funny
Overall, I think this is my biggest takeaway. It just simply didn’t make sense for the Jaguars to keep a guy who had the fourth-highest cap hit on the team as a rotational backup at linebacker. It was never really about the draft pick, or any compensation in general. It was about getting a guy who was getting paid a lot of money to be a rotational backup to a team willing to pay him. Of course the Jaguars will have to eat some dead cap, according to Spotrac, but the sentiment remains the same.
Joe Schobert leaves behind $9.8M of dead cap to the #Jaguars per his trade to PIT.— Spotrac (@spotrac) August 13, 2021
New #Steelers Caps
2021: $7.3M ($7M GTD)
2024: $11.25M https://t.co/fKzzMi1M0k https://t.co/fumVWFXwpx
In the end, the money wasn’t adding up correctly, and to me that’s more of an indictment on the Dave Caldwell era than anything else.