Aaron Schobel went from seemingly certain retirement to unrestricted free agency last week after being released by the Buffalo Bills. Now teams are lining up to bid for his services.
The Houston Texans are considered heavy favorites to sign Schobel, who lives in the area, but the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots also would like to add the two-time Pro Bowl pass rusher, according to reports.
CSN New England's Mike Giardi cited a source in reporting Sunday that the Patriots have "strong" interest in Schobel, who can play defensive end or linebacker. However, Giardi notes that it would take big money to land Schobel, who is accustomed to being paid well. Before being released, he was working on a $50.5 million contract extension from 2007.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Friday that his team "absolutely" would be interested in Schobel, who could replace the retired Patrick Kerney as a pass-rushing threat. However, Schneider considers it a long shot, given Schobel's hometown connection to Houston and the fact that Bill Kollar, his defensive line coach with the Bills, now holds the same job with the Texans.
"He sounds like he is well on his way to Houston," Schneider said on KIRO-AM (via SeattlePI.com).
Texans owner Bob McNair confirmed Thursday that his team is looking at Schobel.
"(General manager) Rick (Smith) is talking with our coaches, and theyâre evaluating things and trying to determine exactly what role a player like Aaron would fill," McNair told The Houston Chronicle. "We all respect him."
Schobel's agent, Jeff Nalley, told KRIV-TV in Houston that his client has "always been a fan of the Texans," but he didn't rule out other possibilities.
"I do expect to hear from most of the Super Bowl contenders in each conference that need a pass rusher," Nalley said.
Those comments came one day after the Bills cut Schobel, who had struggled with his decision on retirement throughout the offseason. He didn't participate in any team activities and was placed on the reserve/did not report list when he failed to show up for the start of Bills training camp.
Schobel, 32, first discussed the possibility of retiring before the start of last season. Schobel said football was no longer fun to him, and he grew frustrated with the Bills' failure to make the playoffs during his nine-season tenure. His 78 sacks rank second in franchise history, behind only Hall of Famer Bruce Smith.
Schobel also wanted to spend more time with his family, and he began making that transition in the spring when he sold his Buffalo-home and relocated to Texas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.