Karl Joseph

Extra Points: Joseph, Eagles, Bengals

Karl Joseph is back with the Raiders. The safety agreed to a deal earlier this week to return to the team that drafted him in the first-round back in 2016, and as he tells it, he never wanted to leave. “I never wanted to leave,” Joseph said, via Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review Journal. “This is my home. I was drafted here. I feel like I was born to be a Raider.” Joseph would’ve still been a Raider in 2020 if the team hadn’t declined his fifth-year option.

Instead, he ended up signing a one-year contract with the Browns. Clearly there were no hard feelings about the option getting declined, because he’s back with Jon Gruden now. “It felt like the right decision was to come back and help finish what I started here and be a part of that,” he explained. “All the pieces are there,” Joseph raved. “I think we’re ready to win. So whatever I’m going to need to do to help us win, that’s what I am going to do.” We still haven’t gotten the financial terms on Joseph’s new Raiders deal, so those will be interesting to see.

Here’s more from around the league on a quiet Sunday night:

  • Two members of the Eagles’ offensive line seem to be progressing well from major injuries. Tackle Lane Johnson had ankle surgery in December, and is apparently almost back to full strength. “Going good. Still in rehab,” Johnson said, via John McMullen of SI.com. “I’m running, moving around well so probably a month out from being cleared fully.” Johnson made three straight Pro Bowls from 2017-19, and his absence was sorely felt last year. Guard Brandon Brooks, also a Pro Bowler from 17-19, missed all of 2020 with a torn Achilles, and Johnson said he’s making good progress as well. “I know he’s excited coming off that injury last year,” Johnson explained of his line-mate. “As far as being cooped up and ready to go, man, he’s a ball of energy.” Whether it’s Jalen Hurts or someone else under center, the Eagles’ pass protection should be a lot better than it was in 2020.
  • The Bengals are bringing back a familiar face, but not a player. The team is hiring Louie Cioffi as a defensive quality control coach, via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com. That’s significant since Cioffi was in the building as a defensive assistant and defensive backs coach from 1997-2010. His tenure with the team preceded that of even Marvin Lewis, and continued through much of Lewis’ time there. He’s been a DBs coach for numerous teams around the NFL since leaving the Bengals, and is one of few people who can say they spent time in both the recent ill-fated spring leagues, the AAF and XFL.

Raiders Bring Back S Karl Joseph

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.

S Karl Joseph Visiting Raiders

Karl Joseph could be reuniting with the Raiders. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the free agent safety is visiting with the Raiders tonight. Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal describes the visit as “a “weighing all options” sort of deal,” with the Raiders evaluating their options prior to the draft (Twitter link).

Joseph signed a one-year deal with the Browns last offseason, and he proceeded to have a bounce-back season for his new squad. He appeared in 14 regular season games (eight starts), compiling 67 tackles, two tackles for loss, four passes defended, and one interception. He also came up big in the playoffs for the Browns; he recovered a botched Steelers snap for a touchdown, and he intercepted a pass by Chiefs quarterback Chad Henne. This was an improvement from his final season with the Raiders in 2019, when Joseph was limited to nine games due to a foot injury.

The Raiders selected Joseph with the 14th-overall pick in the 2016 draft, and he earned All-Rookie Team honors after starting nine games during his rookie campaign. He started 15 games in 2017, compiling a career-high 79 tackles to go along with one sack and one interception. The defensive back seemed to fall out of favor once Jon Gruden was hired, as he was limited to only 11 snaps through the first eight weeks of the 2018 campaign. He ended up starting during the second half of that season, but his fifth-year option was predictably declined during the offseason, spelling the end of his tenure with the team.

Joseph would probably have a chance to play in Las Vegas, as he’d compete with the likes of Dallin Leavitt and Jeff Heath for snaps. We heard recently that the veteran had at least one other suitor in the Steelers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Host S Karl Joseph

Following one season in Cleveland, Karl Joseph could find his next opportunity with another AFC North squad. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter) that the free agent safety visited the Steelers.

The Raiders’ 2016 first-round pick earned PFWA All-Rookie Team honors as a rookie, and he had a solid campaign as a sophomore in 2017. However, he bounced in and out of the starting lineup in 2018, and the Raiders decline his fifth-year option prior to the 2019 campaign. That 2019 season ended up being Joseph’s final year with the organization. and he was limited to only nine games after suffering a foot injury.

He signed a one-year deal with the Browns last offseason, and he proceeded to play 14 games (eight starts) for his new squad. He finished the year having compiled 67 tackles, two tackles for loss, four passes defended, and one interception. He also came up big in the playoffs for the Browns; he recovered a botched Steelers snap for a touchdown, and he intercepted a pass by Chiefs quarterback Chad Henne.

While Joseph probably wouldn’t push either Minkah Fitzpatrick or Terrell Edmunds for playing time, he could serve a role as a solid backup safety. Pittsburgh’s 2020 backups, Sean Davis and Jordan Dangerfield, are both free agents.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/2/21

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

  • Signed off Jets’ practice squad: G Blake Hance
  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: S Karl Joseph
  • Promoted: G Cordell Iwuagwu, LB Montrel Meander, T Alex Taylor

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Promoted: DB John Brannon

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Browns Close Facility Due To COVID-19

3:13pm: While several Browns remain on the coronavirus list, they have completed a contact tracing effort and reopened their facility, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com tweets. They also added center Javon Patterson to the practice squad COVID list, Cabot adds (via Twitter).

11:06am: On Wednesday, the Browns closed their team facility due to a positive COVID-19 test. This comes after the Browns learned that a coach and a practice-squad player have tested positive for COVID-19 (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero).

The Browns have also placed safety Karl Joseph, Andrew Sendejo and Harrison Bryant on the reserve/COVID-19 list, a sign that he was likely in close contact with one or both of those individuals.

The Browns were in similar territory last week with the ripple effect of B.J. Goodson‘s positive COVID-19 test. Contact tracing deemed several Browns wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones to be high-risk close contacts, keeping them out of Sunday’s game against the Jets. The Jets went on to win 23-16, bumping the Browns to 10-5 and knocking themselves out of the No. 1 draft pick sweepstakes.

The Browns can make the playoffs for the first time in a long time with a win over the Steelers in Week 17. Alternatively, they can still reach the postseason if the Colts fall to the Jaguars. There’s also a third scenario that would give them a playoff berth, though that would be dependent on the outcome of three different games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Mixon, Browns, OBJ, Vikings

Although Christian McCaffrey landed his extension, the other members of 2017’s loaded running back class remain on rookie deals. The BengalsJoe Mixon resides in this camp. The sides have begun negotiations, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic, who adds the Bengals are preparing for a Mixon holdout if no extension is agreed upon (subscription required). The Bengals are not prepared to pay Mixon on the $16MM-per-year level — the new standard for backs after McCaffrey’s deal — according to Dehner. The team would like to extend him, Dehner adds, just not in that price neighborhood. Cincinnati’s starting back is going into his age-24 season. Mixon’s contract does not contain a fifth-year option; he is set to earn $1.2MM next season.

With the exception of Ezekiel Elliott, the latest run of big-ticket running back contracts has mostly burned teams. Todd Gurley and David Johnson are elsewhere after signing lucrative Rams and Cardinals extensions, respectively, and Le’Veon Bell ($13.1MM AAV) did not fare well in his first Jets season. Despite playing behind shaky offensive lines, Mixon is coming off back-to-back 1,100-yard rushing seasons. The Bengals have he, Giovani Bernard and 2019 draft choice Trayveon Williams under contract.

Here is more from the NFL’s North divisions:

  • A rumor circulated Wednesday connecting the Browns to engaging in Odell Beckham Jr. trade discussions with the Vikings. The rumor indicated the proposed compensation discussed was a package featuring second- and fifth-round picks. Quickly debunking this, cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reports no such talks occurred (Twitter link). It would be odd to see the Vikings shed Stefon Diggs‘ contract only to add Beckham’s $18MM-AAV deal. Beckham was again mentioned in trade rumors at the end of last season, but the latest Browns regime said the plan is to keep the star wideout for the 2020 season. Beckham’s deal could become a trade asset at some point, with the Giants having eaten all the dead money associated with it.
  • One of many defenders with whom the Browns agreed to one-year contracts, Karl Joseph remains in limbo to a degree. The former Raiders safety suffered a broken foot last season and underwent surgery. However, Joseph has not taken a Browns physical yet, Cabot notes. Joseph is the only member of this Browns free agency class not to have taken his physical, Cabot adds. There are no plans for Joseph to take a physical in the near future, but GM Andrew Berry does not expect this to be an issue that nixes the parties’ $2.5MM agreement.
  • It’s been a while since the Packers have authorized a major running back extension, but they are discussing a new deal with Aaron Jones.

Browns To Add S Karl Joseph

Former first-round pick Karl Joseph will be heading east. The Browns will add the four-year Raiders safety on a one-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

The Raiders did not pick up Joseph’s fifth-year option in 2019, making him a 2020 free agent. After suffering a season-ending injury last year, Joseph will attempt to re-establish his value in Cleveland.

While the Raiders were open to a Joseph re-up, that was many months ago. And Las Vegas has been busy on defense this week, with one of those additions being safety Jeff Heath.

The Browns, however, have been active on the market as well. Joseph joins B.J. Goodson, Jack Conklin, Austin Hooper and Case Keenum as Cleveland-bound talents thus far in free agency. The Browns were discussing a potential tag-and-trade deal with the Vikings for Anthony Harris as well. Joseph may not interfere with those talks, but he has extensive starting experience and may be tabbed for one of Cleveland’s first-string spots. The Browns have already lost Eric Murray in free agency, and Damarious Randall is now on the market as well.

The No. 14 overall pick out of West Virginia in 2016, Joseph started 41 games as a Raider. He has never been a prolific ball hawk, intercepting four passes in four seasons, but has fared better in the box. Pro Football Focus has graded Joseph as a top-35 safety in each of the past two seasons, rating him as one of last season’s top run-defending safeties.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Rams, Phillips, Suggs, Carr

The Rams have obviously been having a disappointing season, as they enter the final two weeks of the season with their playoff chances hanging by a thread the year after making a Super Bowl run. Anytime a team fails to meet expectations there’s the possibility for major changes, and it sounds like that could be the case in Los Angeles. Wade Phillips might be nearing the end of his time with the team, as Alex Marvez of Sirius XM NFL Radio tweets that he’s “hearing there’s a chance” Phillips doesn’t return for the 2020 season. Phillips, 72, has been the Rams’ defensive coordinator for the past three seasons, and was part of head coach Sean McVay’s inaugural staff.

The former Cowboys head coach has been coaching in the league since all the way back in 1976. Before joining forces with McVay he was the defensive coordinator in Denver, overseeing their vaunted ‘No Fly Zone’ secondary which won a Super Bowl in 2015. Marvez adds that Phillips is in the final year of his contract, and that if he were to depart then linebackers coach Joe Barry would be a “strong replacement candidate.” The Rams’ defense has had some notable meltdowns this season, like when they gave up 44 points to the Cowboys last week or 45 to the Ravens a month back, but they’ve also played quite well at times. The secondary has been better since trading for Jalen Ramsey, and they’ve given up 17 or fewer points in six of their last eight games. If Phillips does get the boot or chooses to leave on his own, he’d likely draw some interest from teams in search of a veteran assistant, perhaps to be paired with a young offensive-minded head coach.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Terrell Suggs initially said he’d only play for the Ravens after he was cut by the Cardinals, but when he was claimed by the Chiefs it was immediately reported that he’d be joining Kansas City. What changed? Apparently all it took was a short call with Andy Reid. “I was really uncertain about my future last week, but I talked to Coach and it was a brief conversation and I was like, ‘OK,”’ the veteran pass-rusher said earlier this week, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. “I asked Coach, ‘I just learned the hard way that a player like me just [doesn’t] fit in anywhere.’ He was like, ‘Trust me, you’ll fit in here.'” Suggs spent the first 16 years of his career with Baltimore before signing in Arizona this past offseason. Now, he’ll be joining one of the Ravens’ main AFC rivals with a chance at a potential final playoff run.
  • Raiders safety Karl Joseph was placed on injured reserve after suffering a foot injury early last month, and now we have more details. Joseph had a “partial case of plantar fasciitis in his right foot,” according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tafur also reports that he’ll be good to go in April when offseason programs start across the league. The Raiders declined Joseph’s fifth-year option, so the former first-round pick will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Joseph started the first nine games of this season, and has said he wants to be back with the Raiders. He was receiving average marks from Pro Football Focus before going down.
  • Speaking of the Raiders, there will be a lot of talk about Derek Carr this offseason. The Raiders are set to move to Las Vegas for 2020, and it’s not quite settled as to who will be their quarterback when they play their first game there. Jon Gruden has been publicly supportive of Carr, but “there is a significant disconnect between the coach and the quarterback,” writes Michael Lombardi of The Athletic. Lombardi writes that he believes the Raiders will hold onto Carr, while also drafting a quarterback next April. He speculates that Gruden might look to trade Carr, finding a partner willing to take on Carr’s relatively affordable contract. It’s often hard to tell what Gruden is really thinking as he’s often publicly said one thing while doing another during his short time back in the league, but it’s certainly plausible that he decides to move on from Carr, one of the last holdovers from the pre-Gruden Raiders.

AFC West Notes: McCoy, Bolles, Joseph

The Chiefs listed running back LeSean McCoy as a healthy scratch for their 35-32 loss to the Titans as part of a predetermined schedule to rest him, according to James Palmer of NFL.com. Without McCoy, Damien Williams received a larger portion of snaps and had a costly fumble in the team’s upset loss.

Given the outcome Kansas City may have second thoughts about their decision, but the organization wants to have McCoy as fresh as possible for the last season and playoff push. At 6-4, the Chiefs remain atop the AFC West and will hope McCoy can make up for their loss in future contributions.

Here’s some more from around the AFC West:

  • Left tackle Garett Bolles has struggled mightily for the Broncos this season. In his weekly mailbag, Ryan O’Hallaran of The Denver Post explained that the early-season injury to right tackle Ja’Wuan James might have saved his job. James’ injury forced swing tackle Elijah Wilkinson into full-time duty and left Denver without a solid Plan B behind Bolles. If James finds his way back onto the field, Wilkinson may be able to push for snaps on the opposite side of the line.
  • Safety Karl Joseph had begun establishing himself as a difference-maker in the Raiders secondary this season before he suffered a season-ending injury. With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, the Raiders might have been inclined to negotiate an extension. However, given the uncertainty surrounding his health, Jerry McDonald of The Mercury News expects the team to let him hit free-agency this season and try to re-sign him at market value.