Earlier this offseason, the Oakland Raiders decided not to exercise Karl Joseph’s fifth-year option. How the team decides to handle negotiations with the safety from this point on will be something worth watching.
Most first-round picks are expected to become key contributors right away and half of them fail to make an impact. Joseph hasn’t gotten the bust label yet but 2019 is a make-or-break year for him.
So far, he has shown glimpses of what he’s capable of doing and played very well against the run last season. According to PFF, he had a 74.5 overall grade and was the 30th ranked safety (middle of the pack) in 2018. Although he’s one of the best defensive players to generate stops, he hasn’t been that good at covering, something that is essential if, you know, he plays safety.
Knowing that he can become a free agent and cash in after this year should motivate Joseph to show what he can do. At the end, if he plays well, he will get paid by the Raiders or some other team.
Another thing is that maybe Joseph has played as hard as he can, but it could be his development has taken longer than expected. Former Lions tight end Eric Ebron did not breakout until his fifth year in the league and only after he had changed teams. Detroit could have waited another year to see him shine instead of letting sign with the Colts, so it isn’t unheard of to see players find a niche after their rookie contract has expired.
Either way, Joseph has shown he can play, and he can secure a long-term contract if he performs. If he doesn’t, he runs the risk of signing a less-than-stellar deal.
He would definitely get another chance by another team. After all, most former first round picks do, but he wouldn’t be given the same leeway he has had so far.
If Joseph performs in 2019, Oakland and he will benefit from it. If he doesn’t, he will have a harder time displaying those flashes of potential he has so far and will struggle to cement himself as a steady player in the NFL.
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