2023 Free Agents Analysis: S Karl Joseph – Unrestricted

Player: Karl Joseph

Position: Safety

Experience: 4 Years

Free Agent Status: Unrestricted

2022 Salary Cap Hit: $480,000    

2022 Season Breakdown:

Remember Karl Joseph? He’s actually been a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers for two years now. The former first-round draft pick spent all of the 2021 season on their practice squad, elevated only for one game. He stood a fair chance of making the 53-man roster the following season, but suffered an injury in the leadup to the season and instead spent the year on the Reserve/Injured List.

Joseph is a player that many Steelers fans coveted from the time that he was coming out of college, drafted 14th overall by the Oakland Raiders in 2016. His subsequent career never justified his draft positioning, of course, but injuries also played a role in that. He never played a full 16-game season.

After spending his first four seasons in Oakland, he spent time with the Cleveland Browns in 2020 as an occasional starter. He re-signed with the Raiders in 2021 but did not make the team.

Pittsburgh showed interest in him during the free agency process, so when they landed the opportunity to add him to their practice squad, they pounced on it. Many assumed that he would eventually find his way to the 53-man roster during the season, but it never happened outside of two elevations due to injury.

There was an opportunity for him to make the 53 in 2022, as stated, but an ankle injury suffered in August ended that possibility. Players placed on the Reserve/Injured List prior to the roster cuts are not eligible to return that season.

Free Agency Outlook:

Will the Steelers continue to show interest in Joseph? They allowed his practice squad contract to expire in 2022 and only agreed to terms on a new deal with him at the end of March. Of course, we don’t know if it was Joseph’s choice to explore the market before returning to Pittsburgh.

With both Terrell Edmunds and Damontae Kazee unrestricted free agents, there is a chance they will want to bring him back. He does have playing experience with 49 starts, over 300 tackles, five interceptions, and 20 passes defended with a forced fumble and five fumble recoveries.

Now 29 years old and having hardly played in two years, one would think that he is beyond the point at which there would be much of a market for him. At the moment, he officially remains under contract until the start of the new league year in March, since he was on the Reserve/Injured List, and that acts the same as a spot on the 53-man roster. His cap hit was so low because he was given a split salary because he was on the reserve list.

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