Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: S Karl Joseph
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: The Steelers announced the signing of street free agent safety Karl Joseph to a one-year contract after the veteran spent the 2021 season on the practice squad.
In case you happened to click on this article wondering why I listed Karl Joseph’s value as ‘Purchased’ rather than ‘Up’ the way that I did for re-signings like Montravius Adams, Chukwuma Okorafor, and Ahkello Witherspoon, it is because Joseph was not an unrestricted free agent.
As a member of the Steelers’ practice squad at the end of the season, Joseph’s practice squad contract expired immediately when the team’s season ended. A player signed to the 53-man roster had his contract run up until the start of the new league year, at which point they become unrestricted, compensatory free agents. Joseph’s contract was allowed to lapse in contrast to most of their practice squad players, which is why I view this as a separate, ‘second’ purchase, rather than a continuity.
That’s a lot of housekeeping for the point being made, however, so let’s move on. The biggest question you may have about this signing, if you have any at all, is what does this mean for the safety position? The answer is, not much. They still have to sign a starting strong safety, and that’s not going to be Karl Joseph.
It’s extremely likely that he was signed on a one-year veteran salary benefit contract, perhaps without even a signing bonus, in which case it would have a negligible if non-existent impact on the salary cap. Just because he might not be a starter doesn’t mean he can’t progress, though.
Joseph was signed after final cuts were made. He’ll have a full offseason to learn the defense this year. Theoretically, he could be a defensive contributor in sub-packages. He did play in two games last year as an elevation, recording two tackles in 17 snaps. After all, he was free to sign with any team since January 17, and nobody signed him. Worth keeping in mind.