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2021 Offseason Questions: Will The Steelers Sign Karl Joseph?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will the Steeler sign S Karl Joseph?

According to reports, the Steelers hosted free agent safety Karl Joseph at their facility yesterday. There were no reports of him signing, which is usually a bad sign, but there also haven’t been any reports that he has left town. It’s possible that it could be a two-day visit. There also haven’t been any reports of his having other visits already lined up.

Pittsburgh figures to be in the market for a backup safety as a minimum salary player. Joseph could be holding out for a bit more than that. A former first-round draft pick, he has started 49 of the 63 games in which he has played since entering the league in 2016. He started eight of 14 games for the Cleveland Browns in 2020.

While not really known as a ballhawk, he does have five interceptions, and 19 passes defensed, but he is better regarded as a sound tackler. With Sean Davis recently signing with the Indianapolis Colts, they would be looking for a number three safety, and Joseph is also somebody who could contribute in sub-packages.

But how cheap is he willing to play for? That is, of course, the question. He signed for $2 million last season, including a $500K signing bonus, and also had an additional $750K available in bonuses, of which he earned the majority for a total cap hit near $2.5 million for the year.

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