Karl Joseph

Raiders To Exercise Karl Joseph’s Option?

Despite recent speculation to the contrary, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden indicated that the Raiders will exercise the fifth-year option on safety Karl Joseph (Twitter link via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle). Of course, there’s still plenty of time between now and the May deadline, so things could change. 

The Raiders were reportedly willing to trade Joseph at last year’s trade deadline for a third-round pick, though they were unable to find any takers. Moving Joseph this time around could require taking a lot less and that might not make sense for the Raiders since the 2020 fifth-year option would be guaranteed for injury only.

Joseph has not quite set the world on fire since being taken with the No. 14 overall pick in 2016, but he did show some promise last year. Joseph finished out with 48 tackles, two sacks, an interception (the third of his career) and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 23 ranked safety in the NFL.

Regardless of what happens with Joseph, the Raiders’ secondary will have a new look in 2019.

Either way, Joseph will have a new running mate in the Raiders’ defensive backfield in 2019. Veterans Reggie Nelson and Marcus Gilchrist are not expected to return, so there will be a new free safety starting opposite of Joseph’s spot at strong safety.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Not Expected To Pick Up Karl Joseph’s Fifth-Year Option?

It seems like every player on the Raiders’ roster was on the trading block at some point last year, and safety Karl Joseph was no exception. It was reported that Oakland was willing to move Joseph at the trade deadline in exchange for a third-round pick, but no one stepped up to meet that asking price.

At the end of December, though, we heard that the team had done something of an about-face on Joseph and viewed him as a long-term building block. His play certainly improved down the stretch, and he has proven himself to be a talented pass rusher and in-the-box safety while still being competent in coverage. Plus, he will only be 26 when the regular season starts, and he was the No. 14 overall pick in the 2016 draft.

However, Vic Tafur of The Athletic does not believe the team is sold on Joseph just yet. The West Virginia product is controllable through 2020 via the fifth-year option, but the option must be exercised next month, and if the Raiders do not exercise it, Joseph would be eligible for free agency after the 2019 campaign. Tafur expects that the Raiders will take that chance, as he believes Oakland would like to see how Joseph performs in a prove-it year before committing to him beyond this season (although the fifth-year option is guaranteed for injury only, so as long as Joseph does not suffer a major injury, the Raiders could cut him after 2019 without incurring any dead money).

Either way, Joseph will have a new running mate in the Raiders’ defensive backfield in 2019. Reggie Nelson and Marcus Gilchrist are not expected to return, so either another veteran FA or a rookie will be manning the free safety spot alongside Joseph, the club’s strong safety.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Broncos, Raiders, Seahawks

One team that will likely be undergoing a lot of change this offseason is the Broncos. Vance Joseph seems almost certain to be fired at the end of the season, and the shakeup will likely go well beyond the coaching staff. John Elway will have decisions to make about a lot of the roster, including quarterback Case Keenum, and there will be some tough calls. To preview the tumultuous offseason ahead, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic took a look at the roster and projected who is likely to be gone in 2019.

We’ve already known that outside linebacker Shane Ray and safety Su’a Cravens are extremely unlikely to be back in a Broncos uniform next year, and Jhabvala thinks several other big name defenders are in danger as well. She writes that cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Brandon Marshall, both starters the last few seasons, are both unlikely to be brought back. Jhabvala notes that the team traded Aqib Talib this past offseason because they were confident Roby was ready for a bigger role, but they’ve since soured on the 2015 first round pick. Among other players Jhabvala lists as being in danger are center Matt Paradis, who she thinks might be priced out of the Broncos’ range, and guard Max Garcia, who had already been demoted before tearing his ACL earlier this year.

Here’s more from the league’s western divisions:

  • The Raiders are still looking to upgrade their secondary, but they now view third year safety Karl Joseph as a building block for the future, according to Scott Bair of NBC Sports. Bair writes that the team was shopping the 2016 first round pick at the trade deadline, but is now “happy they didn’t deal him” because of his play the second half of the season. The West Virginia alum has received very good marks from Pro Football Focus, especially recently, and has been a large part of Oakland’s recent resurgence.
  • The Seahawks clinched a playoff berth with their huge win over the Chiefs last Sunday night, and got even more good news this week. Starting guard J.R. Sweezy suffered what initially appeared to be a serious foot injury, but coach Pete Carroll said he thinks Sweezy will be able to play in the first round of the playoffs (Twitter link via Brady Henderson of ESPN). Sweezy has started every game this year for Seattle’s reborn offensive line, and while Carroll is notoriously overly optimistic when diagnosing injuries, this is still good news.
  • Speaking of the Seahawks, their defensive tackle Shamar Stephen “is closing in on a significant incentive bonus”, according to Henderson. Stephen is due a $500K bonus if he plays between 45 and 49.99 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps, or $700K if he plays between 50-54.99 percent. Stephen is currently playing 50.16% of their defensive snaps entering their Week 17 game, so he’s on track to hit it. Considering Stephen’s base salary this year was only $800K, this would be a massive bonus for him to reach.

Trade Rumors: Carr, Raiders, Peterson, Taylor

We learned earlier this morning that Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson has requested a trade, though the team wants to keep him. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Jackson, on his way to the team bus this morning, declined to comment on the report.

With the trade deadline two days away, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league (Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who says many GMs expect there to be three to five “impactful” deals over the next 48 hours, offers a helpful primer, which includes a list of some of the most-discussed players on the market):

  • Albert Breer of TheMMQB says that the Raiders may not be done dealing just yet, though he does not expect the team to move Derek Carr (indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported this morning that the Raiders have told Carr that he is the quarterback of the present and future). However, Oakland is open to moving Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley, though the Raiders are driving a “hard bargain” with teams interested in Conley.
  • Breer names a number of other players whose names we have not heard in recent rumblings but who could nonetheless be on the move: the PackersHa Ha Clinton-Dix, the 49ersPierre Garcon and Jimmie Ward, the CardinalsChandler Jones, and the BroncosShane Ray and Brandon Marshall. Breers adds that San Francisco would need to get something “significant” to deal Ward. He also says that, while teams are certainly interested in Denver corners Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, he thinks it would be difficult for the team to trade either.
  • If they had elected to trade Patrick Peterson, La Canfora writes that the Cardinals could have received a bounty for him, and may have even landed multiple first-round picks (in fact, several teams were already prepared to offer a first- and second-rounder). JLC reports that Peterson was considered the “crown jewel” of the deadline, and given his attractive contract status, he may be the subject of renewed trade rumors during the offseason.
  • Breer also writes that the Browns are open to trading Tyrod Taylor, whose contract structure could make a deal feasible. Meanwhile, Tony Grossi of ESPN.com suggests that Cleveland GM John Dorsey may be trying to acquire wide receiver help (Twitter link).
  • The Bills remain unlikely to trade LeSean McCoy, per Schefter.
  • Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has demonstrated a proclivity for making trades, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says Maccagnan has been doing his due diligence on everyone, including big-name players. But while there is a sense that New York could swing a deal, the fact that the team is in a no-man’s land between buyer and seller, and the fact that the roster does not have many tradeable pieces, could make a trade difficult to pull off.

Fallout From Raiders’ Trade Of Amari Cooper

After looking at the Amari Cooper trade from the Cowboys’ perspective, let’s take a look at things from the Raiders’ side:

  • Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie insists that Cooper’s contract situation, or the fact that he is represented by the same agent as Khalil Mack agent (Joel Segal) had nothing to do with his desire to make a deal (Twitter link via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area).
  • McKenzie said the trade “was an opportunity I couldn’t pass on, to get a first-round pick. … I love Amari but I just felt it came down to getting the pick,” (Twitter link via Vic Tafur of The Athletic).
  • The Raiders are now in a full rebuild mode, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) doesn’t think they’re done yet. Safety Karl Joseph is another first-rounder who could be available, giving the Raiders a chance to add even more to their 2019 draft haul. As Rapoport understands it, quarterback Derek Carr and cornerback Gareon Conley are unlikely to be dealt, but many other players could be had for the right price.
  • Head coach Jon Gruden did not immediately address the trade with his team (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Review-Journal). Some players saw Cooper pulled off of the practice field on Monday but didn’t know why until they checked their phones in the locker room.

Trade Rumors: Raiders, Cooper, Cowboys, Broncos

The trade deadline is just nine days away, and earlier this morning, we learned that the Saints and Eagles could be two of the most aggressive teams as they seek to bolster their rosters for a potential championship run. Here are a few more notes from the trade market:

  • Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link), many Raiders players believe that head coach Jon Gruden is simply not happy with his collection of talent, and that there will be major roster turnover within the next several years. In fact, those players feel it will take up to two years for Gruden to assemble the type of roster he wants, and while rival GMs are not sure they can swing a deal with Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie alone, they believe they can make headway with Gruden. The Raiders are clearly in a state of upheaval right now, and the sense is that everyone on the team is available for the right price.
  • Raiders receiver Amari Cooper is clearly available via trade, and Rapoport says that the team has had the most significant discussions about Cooper with NFC East clubs, including the Cowboys. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms that Dallas is doing its due diligence on Cooper, and Albert Breer of TheMMQB thinks there would be teams willing to part with a second-round choice for him, though it does not seem likely that Oakland will get the first-rounder it is reportedly seeking. Breer reports that the team wants a third-round pick in exchange for safety Karl Joseph.
  • In addition to Cooper, the Cowboys are monitoring Dolphins WR DeVante Parker and Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The Eagles have also spoken to Miami about Parker, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (via Twitter).
  • Teams are very much interested in Broncos receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and corners Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Schefter writes that Denver is willing to part with Thomas, but not Sanders.
  • The Jaguars are not mulling a trade for a quarterback to challenge incumbent Blake Bortles, per Schefter. Despite another mediocre season from Bortles, the Jags “believe that the quarterback position is the least of their issues.”

Raiders Shopping Amari Cooper, Karl Joseph

11:34am: The Raiders are also looking to deal wideout Amari Cooper, per Jay Glazer of Fox Sports (video link). Vic Tafur of The Athletic explains that it makes sense for the Raiders to be shopping Cooper now (via Twitter), because he will be on the last year of his rookie deal in 2019, and it looks as though Oakland is priming for a multi-year rebuild. And if Gruden traded Mack when he thought the team couldn’t contend, it stands to reason that he would be willing to trade Cooper as well.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out that Mack, Joseph, and Cooper are all represented by the same agent, Joel Segal, and it could be that the team’s willingness to trade those players is motivated at least in part by its unwillingness to negotiate with the man who won a stare down with Gruden during the Mack negotiations.

08:52am: When the Raiders hired Jon Gruden in January, it became immediately clear that seventh-year GM Reggie McKenzie and the club would be parting ways in the near future. After all, the Raiders made an enormous commitment to Gruden while giving him a significant amount of McKenzie’s power over roster construction, so the writing has been on the wall for some time. And, despite the fact that Gruden’s evaluation methods have created tension within the team’s personnel department, he is continuing his mission to rid the roster of talent that he inherited from McKenzie, which he has clearly been unhappy with.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Raiders are shopping 2016 first-round pick Karl Joseph, who has struggled with injuries during his brief career. La Canfora says that Joseph, who sat out the past two games with a hamstring injury, has also fallen out of favor with Oakland’s new staff.

Of course, Joseph’s senior year at West Virginia was cut short by a knee injury, and many teams placed a second- or third-round grade on him as a result. But the Raiders, then led by McKenzie, believed enough in Joseph’s talent to make him the No. 14 overall selection in the 2016 draft, and while he has certainly not played poorly with the Raiders, he has not exactly lived up to his draft status either. As such, it is unlikely the Raiders would be able to get much for him, especially as he is entering the most expensive year(s) of his rookie deal.

The Raiders have already tried to cut ties with Joseph’s fellow safety, 2017 second-rounder Obi Melifonwu, who is currently on IR but who has probably played his last down for Oakland. La Canfora also says that the team is willing to trade veteran Derrick Johnson, whom Gruden brought in to serve as Oakland’s starting middle linebacker this offseason. Johnson, who will turn 36 next month, is obviously not a part of the Raiders’ future plans.

Gruden has already shown a willingness to part with top-flight talent when he traded Khalil Mack before the start of the regular season, and La Canfora says that Gruden could soon be shopping another one of McKenzie’s prized draft picks, quarterback Derek Carr. The CBS scribe writes that a growing number of GMs believe Gruden could entertain offers for Carr in 2019, and it appears that the team will certainly be one of the busiest over the next couple of weeks, as the trade deadline looms on October 30.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Raiders, Jets, Giants

2016 first-round pick Karl Joseph has justified his draft position through the first two games of this season, writes Scott Blair of CSNBayArea.com. The Raiders safety has compiled 14 tackles, one sack, one pass defended, and one forced fumble through the first two weeks. The team’s coaching staff is predictably happy with his production, although they expected this from the West Virginia product.

“That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s supposed to make plays,” said head coach Jack Del Rio. “He’s a guy we selected because we thought he’d be a guy that could come in and impact on our defense. In the first two games of this year he’s played well. There are still things, like I tell you all the time, that have cleaning up to do, work to do, things to improve on, but he’s off to a good start and obviously it follows up from a good offseason. Healthy, a lot of good work and confidence that he’s gaining as we go.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • This offseason, the Jets would prefer to acquire a talented quarterback prospect over a veteran signal-caller, writes ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini. However, in the event that several of the prospects stay in school, suffer an injury, or underwhelm this collegiate season, the team would have several options in free agency. The writer believes an aging quarterback like Drew Brees wouldn’t be a good fit for the younger Jets squad, and he notes that Kirk Cousins will surely demand too much money. Jimmy Garoppolo or Sam Bradford could be intriguing options, although they’re accompanied by their own question marks (including Garoppolo’s availability and Bradford’s injuries). Ultimately, Cimini believes January 15th (which is the final day underclassmen can declare for the draft) will be a “pivotal date in Jets history.”
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com opines that impending free agent running back Le’Veon Bell will ultimately sign with the highest bidder, and the writer believes the Jets could be prepared to break the bank for the Pro Bowler. The team is already eyeing $85MM in cap space next offseason, and they could easily move on from running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. To add a bit of intrigue, Slater notes that Bell grew up as a Jets fan.
  • The Giants unwillingness to pursue Rams (and former Bengals) offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth in free agency was an “inexplicable, inexcusable mistake,” writes James Kratch of NJ.com. The writer dismisses the notion that the organization couldn’t have afforded Jason Pierre-Paul had they inked Whitworth to a lucrative contract. Rather, the Giants could have moved on from some of their veterans, including Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Alternatively, they could have passed on free agent wideout Brandon Marshall and invested that money towards the offensive line.

AFC Notes: Titans, Bills, Raiders, Texans, Fins

The Titans made wide receiver Kendall Wright a healthy scratch for their season finale last Sunday, and now the impending free agent is ready to leave Tennessee. “I saw the 2017 Tennessee Titans, and I am not a part of the 2017 Tennessee Titans,” Wright told TitansOnline.com on Monday (via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com). “It is what it is. I respect everybody in the building.” A first-round pick in 2012, Wright began his career with three straight seasons of at least 57 catches and 93 targets, but the Titans tamped down their reliance on him the past two years. In 21 games dating back to 2015, Wright has combined for just 65 receptions and 102 targets. Now, with a trip to the open market looming, Wright feels “free.”

While Wright looks like a lock to exit the organization, two of his coaches – Bob Bratkowski (receivers) and Jason Tucker (assistant WRs) – definitely won’t be back in 2017. The Titans parted ways with the duo Wednesday, tweets Jim Wyatt of the team’s website.

More from the AFC:

  • The Bills will interview their interim head coach, Anthony Lynn, on Thursday, according to John Wawrow of the Associated Press (Twitter link). There was a report Tuesday that Lynn might not want to take over on a permanent basis in Buffalo, though he’s at least keeping that option on the table. The 48-year-old is a popular candidate around the NFL, as PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker shows.
  • Raiders safety Karl Joseph says he’ll play in Saturday’s wild-card matchup in Houston, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. The rookie missed the last four games of the regular season, and his return is big for Oakland with Nate Allen in the concussion protocol.
  • Unlike Joseph, Texans quarterback Tom Savage won’t be available this weekend, relays Palmer (Twitter link). Savage suffered a concussion last Sunday, thereby reopening the door for Brock Osweiler to start, but there was hope that Savage would be OK to serve as a backup. That won’t be the case, though, and the Texans will have to turn to Brandon Weeden as their No. 2 option.
  • The Dolphins worked out linebacker Ron Thompson, defensive end Arthur Miley and four defensive backs – L.J. McCray, Floyd Raven, Trent Matthews and Daniel Davie – according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). Miami’s need for DBs is obvious, as its secondary is extremely banged up with the team’s weekend wild-card game in Pittsburgh approaching. Cornerback Byron Maxwell and safety Bacarri Rambo didn’t practice Wednesday, while safeties Reshad Jones and Isa Abdul-Quddus are on the shelf thanks to season-ending injuries.
  • In addition to the previously reported Elijah Shumate and Jeff Richards, the Chiefs auditioned receiver Tre Houston, kicker Devon Bell, defensive tackle Montori Hughes, linebacker Deon Lacey, defensive end Terrell Lathan, tight end Ryan Malleck, running back Will Ratelle and defensive back Julian Wilson last Friday, per Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. All are candidates to sign reserve/futures deal with the Chiefs, writes Paylor, who notes that now-starting running back Spencer Ware joined the team on that type of contract in January 2015.
Zach Links contributed to this post.

Impact Rookies: Oakland Raiders

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

Today, we continue PFR’s Impact Rookie series with his insight on the Oakland Raiders’ draft class:

Oakland or Las Vegas? Wherever the Raiders end up playing, both their offensive and defensive foundations are well on their way to being established, as quarterback Derek Carr and left defensive end Khalil Mack were efficient and sensational, respectively, during their second campaign in the league last year.

This is a young team on the rise, a team that returns all but three of the players who started for them in 2015. The front office opened their wallets and brought in help for the secondary, pass rush and offensive line that should see the organization increase their playoff chances. Established pass protector Kelechi Osemele left Baltimore to provide the Raiders with a drastic upgrade at the left guard spot manned by departed J’Marcus Webb (Seattle) last year. With Webb, the front wall yielded 38 sacks and saw their ground attack limp to 91.1 yards per game last season, the fifth lowest average in the league.

Even with future Hall of Fame safety Charles Woodson in charge, the defense gave up 258.3 aerial yards per game, the 25th-highest total in the NFL. They tied for 13th with just fourteen interceptions, but replace Woodson with Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson, who tied for the league title with eight pass thefts last year, along with finishing sixth in the NFL with 22 passes defended and ranked second on the Bengals squad with 77 tackles. Nelson is also a great veteran mentor for first round safety, Karl Joseph, who should be ready to start by the season opener after an injury-marred 2015 campaign at West Virginia.

First Round – Karl Joseph, SS (West Virginia, No. 14 overall)

The team’s first-round draft pick is still working hard trying to get his surgically repaired right knee ready for the rigors of training camp. Hurt in a non-contact drill in early October, the slight-framed strong safety compensates for his lack of ideal size and bulk with tremendous force behind his hits. While those bone-rattling tackles will excite the fan base, it will also alert the refs, as Joseph’s penchant for getting too aggressive have led to the flags being thrown on a regular basis. While penalties in bunches were the norm for the Raiders in the past, the defense “wised up” last year, ranking 23rd in the league with just 104 penalties for the unit. Karl Joseph

At the time of his injury, Joseph was leading the major college ranks with an average of 1.3 interceptions per game and paced the Big Twelve Conference with an average of 1.5 passes defended per contest. He had a career-high three interceptions vs. Georgia Southern last year, the first Mountaineer to accomplish that feat since 1994.

Joseph graduated in December with academic honors and was the team’s “valedictorian” on the gridiron, where he had started 42-of-44 games during his career. He recorded eight interceptions while deflecting twelve passes, delivering 284 tackles (209 solos) with a pair of sacks and 15.5 stops-for-loss. His hard-hitting style caused eight fumbles, which he recovered six of them.

Despite lacking great bulk, Joseph possesses good upper body thickness, large, natural hands (9 ¾-inches) and room to carry at least another ten pounds of bulk for a potential move to strong safety at the next level. He lacks blazing quickness (4.59 in the 40-yard dash), which will limit his position duties to the strong-side slot. While he has good range, there is a bit of stiffness in his hips when he attempts to transition (note-prior to his injury in 2015, Joseph was working on how to compensate for some hip stiffness with a short stride to help him open his hips quicker in transition), but he shows good ability to plant-&-drive, coming out of his breaks cleanly. He seems to play better when making plays in front of him, as he lacks the second gear to recover when trying to stay with the speedy receivers on deep routes.

Joseph is an emotional team leader who takes well to hard coaching. He has the field awareness to easily break down plays and locate the ball, doing a very good job of staying low in his pads and taking proper angles to close on and make the play. His field vision when playing in the shallow zone allows him to fill the rush lanes in an instant while breaking sharply on the ball in underneath passing situations. As a strong safety, he has shown that despite size issues, he can mirror the tight ends on underneath routes and shows good anticipation skills and awareness dropping back in the zone. Those fumbles caused are evident that he has a nose for the ball and the interception figures highlight his natural hands to make the interception.

Click here to read more about the Raiders’ rookie class..

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