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.
Explanation: A veteran safety and former first-round pick, Joseph has been a starter in the NFL before, but spent most of last season on the Steelers’ practice squad after being picked up on September 1, one day after he was released by the Las Vegas Raiders. He was re-signed in March this year, so he will have a full offseason and a chance to re-establish himself.
Talent makes rosters, and Karl Joseph has at least a bit of it. While he never lived up to his first-round billing, he is capable of playing. It’s been injuries more than performance that has sidetracked his career and made it difficult for him to hold down a starting job.
While the Steelers did add Damontae Kazee to add to the veteran mix at safety, there are ways to make room for defensive backs who are willing to play on special teams, and Joseph can do that if that’s what it takes to make the roster.
Joseph started at least eight games in every year of his career up until this past season, and he’s still 28 years old. This is a guy who is still able to contribute. If they have to, they can pare down at cornerback, with Justin Layne and Arthur Maulet, perhaps James Pierre, being targets to be swapped out.
Whether or not he is capable of contributing to the defense doesn’t mean there is room for him. They are already looking at likely carrying six cornerbacks, and they have five safeties already, with Miles Killebrew as a special teamer and Tre Norwood as a versatile second-year defensive back taking up the final two spots along with Kazee behind the starters.
The Steelers have never carried 12 defensive backs that I’m aware of, and this doesn’t seem likely to be a year where that is workable. They’re going to have at least nine linebackers, if not 10, or even 11. They could even have seven defensive linemen. I’m not seeing any areas in which they will have an obvious shortage where they can place not one but two extra roster spots.
Chances are he will be free to be re-signed to the practice squad again, and they’ll be more willing to spare him than Norwood or Killebrew.