The Oakland Raiders have struggled to create a defensive identity over the last few years. During the 2019 NFL Draft, the Raiders have attempted to improve that defense.
One consistent piece for the Raiders defense has been safety Karl Joseph. Joseph was the Raiders’ first-round pick in 2016 and to this point, has played out his rookie contract.
While Joseph does have a team option on his fifth year, his future with the team remains unclear. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Raiders are not planning to pick up that option which would make him a free agent at season’s end:
The #Raiders are not expected to use their fifth-year option on former first-round S Karl Joseph, source said. He’ll be a free agent in 2020 at 26-years-old, an opportunity to hit the market as the new Oakland regime weighs whether to move on to their own picks.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 3, 2019
As previously mentioned, the Raiders used the 2019 NFL Draft as an opportunity to improve their defense. Mississippi State safety Jonathan Abram, the Raiders final first-round pick and Joseph’s likely replacement, grabbed two interceptions during his three years at Mississippi State. Both interceptions came during his final collegiate season.
Joseph, on the other hand, has notched a single interception in each of his three seasons with the Raiders.
Two years ago, the Raiders were at the bottom of the league with only five interceptions. They improved last year to 14th overall with 14 interceptions, led by cornerbacks Marcus Gilchrist and Gareon Conley.
With Joseph still under contract for one more season, it would not be surprising to see the Raiders attempt to trade him either before or during the season. If they are not able to, he would likely serve as a backup to Abram and Lamarcus Joyner.