Karl Joseph will return to the Raiders. The former Oakland first-round pick, who landed in Cleveland last year, agreed to terms with his former team Friday after trekking to Las Vegas for a visit.
The Raiders drafted Joseph in the 2016 first round and used him as a starting safety for most of his tenure. Joseph, who also visited the Steelers this offseason, will return to help fill the Silver and Black fill a major need.
This move comes nearly two years after the Raiders passed on Joseph’s 2020 option season. The West Virginia product’s initial Raiders run ended earlier, with a foot injury halting his 2019 season midway through. Joseph will now rejoin Johnathan Abrams on the Raiders’ defensive back line. These two started in Week 1 of the 2019 season, but Abrams’ season-ending injury that night made he and Joseph’s on-field time together brief.
Last season, Joseph started eight Browns games — out of the 14 he played — and finished with his worst Pro Football Focus assessment. PFF viewed Joseph as better during his Raiders seasons but slotted him outside the top 70 safeties last season. The 27-year-old defender made 67 tackles, intercepted a pass and recovered two fumbles with Cleveland. He added a playoff interception in Kansas City, doing so after spending time on the Browns’ reserve/COVID-19 list late last season.
Las Vegas may still be in play for a safety in the draft, but Joseph minimizes that need. The Raiders have experienced rampant trouble in pass defense over the past decade and change; their issues last season led Jon Gruden to fire DC Paul Guenther. Gus Bradley will call the shots next season, giving Joseph a third defensive system in three seasons and a fourth over the past five. PFF graded Joseph as a top-25 safety in 2018, his most recent full season with the Raiders, and he has started 41 games with team. It should be expected he will add to that total in 2021.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.