JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars have begun reworking their defense.
The first step toward that end came early Thursday afternoon, with the Jaguars announcing their first major acquisition of the 2020 NFL League Year.
Joe Schobert, a former Pro Bowl linebacker who played his first four seasons with the Cleveland Browns, has agreed to terms to a five-year contract with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent. The Jaguars announced the move a day after Wednesday's start of the league year and free agency.
"At the end of the day, we looked at a guy like Joe and really felt great about the things he was able to do," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said Thursday.
Marrone said Schobert's acquisition will allow the Jaguars to move Myles Jack to the weak-side linebacker position. Jack has played middle linebacker the past three seasons and has been the full-time starter there the last two seasons.
"We were looking at Will (weak-side) linebacker, Mike (middle) linebacker, Sam (strong-side) linebacker and thinking, 'What would be the best thing for our football team?''' Marrone said. "We feel that Myles' natural position is Will. We've talked to him. He's excited about it. He's fired up for it.
"When you can get a player like Joe in who's a true middle linebacker, and has played the position and played it at a high level, it's really going to help us – not just at the one position, at the Mike position, but obviously we're going to get better play from Myles moving to the more natural position, which is Will.
"We made one move, but it's going to help us better overall in our whole linebacker corps."
Schobert (6-feet-1, 245 pounds), a fourth-round selection by the Browns in the 2016 NFL Draft from Wisconsin, will enter his fifth NFL season next season. His 378 tackles in the past four seasons are the fourth-most in the NFL during that span.
"We really feel great about the things Joe has been able to do and what he adds to our team," Marrone said. "He brings an ability to tackle and diagnose plays. He's a true middle linebacker and has played it at a high level. He's really going to help us, not only at the MIKE linebacker position, but he also helps us overall across our whole linebacking corps."
Schobert started at middle linebacker for the Browns the past four seasons, playing 61 games and starting 49. He led the Browns in tackles this past season with 133, also registering four interceptions and two forced fumbles; he was the only player in the NFL last season with four or more interceptions and at least 130 tackles.
Schobert was the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week this past season when he registered five tackles, two interceptions and four passes defensed in a Week 12 victory over the Miami Dolphins. He registered 103 tackles, three sacks and an interception in 2018.
He was named to his first Pro Bowl following a 2017 season in which he registered 142 tackles – the second-most in the NFL – and in which he defensed four passes and forced three fumbled with an interception and three sacks. He was one of three NFL players who played every snap that season.