Browns Fill Void at Safety With Former First-Round Pick

Getty Karl Joseph signed with the Browns in free agency.

The Cleveland Browns shored up their secondary on Wednesday by adding former Raiders safety Karl Joseph to the roster via free agency.

Joseph, who was the 14th overall pick in 2016, signed a one-year deal with the Browns, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Joseph had started at least eight games every season while with the Raiders, including nine his rookie year. Last season, Joseph had started all nine games before a foot injury ended his season.

In 41 career starts, Joseph has 236 total tackles, four interceptions and 15 passes defended. His coverage skills could use work, but Joseph is a solid in the box safety that isn’t scared to make a tackle.

Joseph had said previously that he wanted to return to the Raiders as they made the move to Las Vegas, despite the team declining his fifth-year option.

“This is the team that drafted me. I love playing with this group of guys,” Joseph said last season, per Heavy’s Austin Boyd. “I love playing for this coaching staff. I love playing in coach Guenther’s system. I think it’s a great system for me, for the safeties . . . it’s out of my control. All I can do is get healthy.”

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Safety a Major Need for Browns

The Browns had a big hole to fill at safety after multiple roster moves thinned out the depth chart. The team released veteran Morgan Burnett earlier this week. He totaled 41 tackles, two sacks, one interception and two passes defensed before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury in Cleveland’s Week 11 win over the Steelers.

The Browns also let Juston Burris and Eric Murray go in free agency. Burris signed with the Panthers, while Murray went to the Texans on a solid three-year deal.

Damarious Randall is another Browns unrestricted free agent that could sign elsewhere. He had a tough contract year in Cleveland, missing multiple games with injuries — including a concussion he voiced his disagreement with — and was mysteriously benched by former head coach Freddie Kitchens.

The Seahawks, Raiders and Redskins were all teams mentioned by ESPN’s Josina Anderson as having interest in Randall.

Sheldrick Redwine and J.T. Hassell are the only safeties the Browns have locked up on the roster. Being on a one year deal, it’s possible the Browns see Joseph as a bridge to help the younger players at the position develop.

Browns Were Exploring Trade for Anthony Harris

Defensive back Anthony Harris.

The Browns had reportedly been exploring a deal for Vikings safety Anthony Harris, but the price-tag both for a trade and then compensation on a long-term deal might be too much. The signing of Joseph is an affordable short-term option.

Joseph, a former undrafted free agent, was tied for the NFL best with six interceptions last season. He added 60 tackles and 11 passes defended.

The Vikings reportedly want at least a third-round pick for Harris and it could take as high as a second, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Browns have a pair of third-round picks and No. 41 overall pick in the second round.

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