With the 2022 new league year, the questions will be plenty for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend cash and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know who the quarterback is going to be yet—even if we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including to the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table—and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like absent Ben Roethlisberger?
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: Karl Joseph will make the 53-man roster this year with the opportunity to have a full offseason.
Explanation: Signed after the roster cuts were made at the end of the preseason, former first-round safety Karl Joseph spent most of the year on the practice squad behind rookie seventh-round pick Tre Norwood and special-teamer Miles Killebrew. With a full offseason, though, he won’t have to learn the defense on the fly.
While Joseph’s career by now has obviously established that he’s not the player the Raiders thought they were drafting, he is still a capable football player. One of his biggest knocks over the course of his career has been his durability, but he can still be a contributor when he is on the field.
Prior to last season, he has started at least eight games in every year of his career, even in 2020 while with the Cleveland Browns. He started all nine games in which he played for the Raiders the year before that. He has 49 starts in his career and more than 3,000 defensive snaps logged. He’s a seasoned veteran.
And who is his competition? Killebrew? How many cornerbacks will they carry this year? Joseph could kick Justin Layne or James Pierre off the roster (or Arthur Maulet). Plus, they’re not carrying six outside linebackers again.
The Steelers will still add another veteran safety in free agency, and they could very well draft another one later this month as well. Especially if they do draft a safety—or any defensive back—it will be hard to find a roster spot for Joseph, who hasn’t been a big special teams contributor over the course of his career.
Pittsburgh signed Killebrew to play special teams, but they have also allowed him to play on defense. He could easily be a fifth safety, if not the fourth safety as he was last year. And they’re certainly not going to part with Norwood.