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Browns to meet with pending free-agent LB Joe Schobert's representatives during NFL Combine


INDIANAPOLIS -- Andrew Berry said Tuesday he plans to meet with representatives of Pro Bowl linebacker Joe Schobert, who is set to hit free agency at the start of the new league year.

The Browns external vice president of football operations and general manager praised Schobert, Cleveland's leading tackler this past season and a 2017 Pro Bowler, but stressed a potential agreement would have to work for both the organization and Schobert.

"Joe is a good player and an even better person," Berry said during his media session at the 2020 NFL Combine. "He's obviously earned the right to test the market if he deems that appropriate. It's one of those situations where we like Joe and it obviously has to work from both sides. It has to work from us from a cost perspective with our long-term roster strategy and obviously has to be a fit for Joe and his family as well."

Over four seasons, Schobert has racked up 408 tackles over 59 games. He's been an every-game starter since his second season, when he shifted from outside linebacker to inside linebacker. He's thrived in a handful of different schemes, playing for three different defensive coordinators in four years.

If he returns to Cleveland, it'd be a fourth in five years under Joe Woods, who recently assumed the role on head coach Kevin Stefanski's 2020 staff. 

"I think Joe's a good football player. I have not gotten a chance yet to get in front of him," Stefanski said. "I think from everybody that I've spoken to in the building about Joe the person, I think it's A++. Really looking forward to seeing how this whole process plays out but this is free agency so it has to be both sides. I'll just wait to see how this thing shakes out."

Schobert is the only potential free agent from a Cleveland linebacker room that is a season removed from playing all but two games without veteran Christian Kirksey, who suffered a chest injury in the Browns' Week 2 win over the Jets. The Browns used two draft picks on linebackers in 2019, selecting Sione Takitaki in the third round and Mack Wilson in the fifth. Wilson started in Kirksey's place and finished the year with 82 tackles while Takitaki mostly played on special teams.

"No different than any other position group, we're going to try to put the best talent on the field come September," Berry said. "Some of that is going to be from players who are going to take a step internally. Others may be external additions. We're not going to bound ourselves to really any specific combination of players. We're going to look for the best options."

Get ready for the Combine next week by checking out photos of current Browns working out at their combines

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