The Buccaneers defensive backs looked to be really making some positive strides in the ladder half of this past season. The safety position dealt with injuries and inconsistent play for the majority of the year and it just so happens that there are some options to improve that area via free agency.
Enter Karl Joseph, Oakland Raiders strong safety and current free agent. With Joseph available, we take a look at the former West Virginia product in today’s spotlight.
KARL JOSEPH’S CAREER THUS FAR
Karl Joseph was first team All Big 12 as a junior and was on a tear to begin his senior season as well. Joseph found himself in a nightmare situation when he injured his knee in a non contact drill that derailed the remainder of his final year in college at West Virginia. With his future unclear, the Mountaineer went to work and got himself ready for the NFL Draft.
With some uncertainty about the knee and prior injuries, there was some flunctuation amongst draft pundits as to where Joseph would go in the draft. All uncertainty was washed away when the Oakland Raiders selected Joseph 14th overall in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Joseph began his career with four straight seasons of 500+ snaps and graded out between 67 and 74 overral by Pro Football Focus. Joseph excelled in particular as a box safety, earning a grade of 82.2.
In the end, Joseph didn’t quite due enough as the team opted to not pick up Joseph’s 5th year option. To make matters worse for the safety, Joseph’s 2019 was injury riddled heading into his impending free agency that is now upon us.
WHY IT WORKS
Joseph makes sense and works for the Buccaneers for a couple of reasons and it begins with his age. At 26 years old, Joseph is young enough to truly invest in not only for now, but for the future. With an already young defense, Joseph could come in and provide some leadership and consistency to the group.
Joseph, despite his injury history, is an upgrade to the current roster and would be able to step in and elevate the defensive back play from day one should he maintain his current level of play. With Todd Bowles and company in charge, it may be worth wondering if Joseph’s ceiling and potential could possibly be tapped into a bit more here in Tampa.
The overall athleticism and play style that Joseph brings fits the tenacity and aggressiveness of a Todd Bowles defense as well.
Joseph is not a high end coverage safety. Joseph’s best work is seen in the box and the team invested in Jordan Whitehead who showed some signs of being a true playmaker in the run game. With Joseph playing the same position and being an older and less reliable player from a health and availability standpoint, it doesn’t make nearly as much sense to go out and bring in another safety coming off an injury.
The growth of Whitehead should be the priority right now and bringing in Karl Joseph would be somewhat of a gamble and surely would slow down Whiteheads development.
WHAT’S THE COST?
Joseph is coming off his rookie deal and has definitely out performed his prior pay. Had Joseph remained healthy and finished his rookie contract out with a bang, he’d be in for quite the payday. Alas, that’s not how this story played out.
Joseph is indeed coming off an injury riddled season and may need to prove to teams he can stay healthy and play at a high level before earning a big contract. That could play into favor for a team like the Buccaneers should they look to offer a one year prove it type deal.
It seems reasonable to believe that Joseph could see a little more than double his prior salary in a one year deal that would put him in the $4-5 million range.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
With a team that spent heavily in the draft on defensive backs over the last few seasons, does it makes sense to dip into free agency to bring talent in to play over some of those young bucks? That’s a tough decision to make given the late season growth that the defense showed.
We also don’t know what Karl Joseph is looking for. Certainly he will want to start, but will Joseph be looking for more financial security in a multi-year deal and will the Buccaneers be willing to sacrifice another young players development, such as Jordan Whitehead, to make that happen?
MAKE THE DECISION
The pro’s and con’s are obvious when it comes to Joseph. He’s an outstanding box safety with a true injury history to worry about. He’s young and talented, but one can argue the upside is with Whitehead.
But this is a decision that we’ll leave up to you, Bucs Nation. Is Jordan Whitehead the present and future at strong safety or does the team need Karl Joseph? Be sure to vote in the poll and discuss your stance in the comments down below!
When It Comes To Karl Joseph, What Would You Have The Buccaneers Do?
This poll is closed
Sign Him, No Matter What
Make An Offer, But Keep It Reasonable
Invite Him For A Cup Of Coffee And See Where It Goes From There
Call Him Up If They Have A Need After The Draft
Don’t Need Him