It’s been a relatively busy day in free agency for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who announced the signings of both a wide receiver (Mathew Sexton) and a linebacker (Jarvis Miller). In the meantime, Josina Anderson, host of ‘Undefined with Josina Anderson,’ has reported that free agent safety Karl Joseph is traveling to Pittsburgh on Wednesday for a visit with the Steelers.
I'm told free agent S Karl Joseph is traveling today for a visit with the #Steelers, per source.
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 31, 2021
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Karl Joseph is a Former First-Round Pick
Joseph—5-foot-10, 205 pounds—entered the NFL in 2016 when the Raiders selected him No. 14 overall out of West Virginia.
He started 41 of the 49 games he played with the Raiders, during which time he recorded 236 total tackles (174 solo), with four interceptions, 15 passes defensed, nine tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, three sacks, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.
But Las Vegas declined to pick up his fifth-year option and Joseph moved on to the Cleveland Browns last year, where he started eight of 14 games and produced numbers proportionally similar to those he produced with the Raiders. In fact, it was Joseph who recovered Maurkice Pouncey’s bad snap at the beginning of last season’s Wildcard Playoff game against the Steelers, which gifted the Browns a 7-0 lead.
Pittsburgh’s Situation at Safety
The Steelers are pretty well settled at safety in terms of the starters, with All-Pro free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and strong safety Terrell Edmunds holding down those respective positions. But Pittsburgh needs depth, preferably veteran depth, as two of the reserves from last year—Sean Davis and Jordan Dangerfield—are unsigned unrestricted free agents.
The only other safeties currently on the offseason roster are former sixth-round pick Antoine Brooks Jr. and first-year player John Battle, the latter a former undrafted free agent who came into the NFL with the New York Jets in 2019 and signed one-year Reserve/Future contract with the Steelers in January. As for Brooks, he spent much of last season on Pittsburgh’s practice squad, though he did appear in four games and recorded two tackles in the Week 10 victory over the Bengals.
As to the potential cost of signing Joseph? It’s hard to say, but considering the decline in the salary cap, it figures to be less than he earned with the Browns last year, when he had a base salary of $1.5 million and a total cap charge of $2,437,500, this according to overthecap.com.
Meanwhile, the Steelers probably have greater concerns at the cornerback position than safety, as two of the top three CBs from last year’s team are gone. No. 2 cornerback Steven Nelson had his contract terminated within an hour after he posted an ‘out of character’ tweet, one which came not long after he was given permission to seek a trade. Also, slot cornerback Mike Hilton left in free agency, inking a four-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.
That leaves veteran Joe Haden as the No. 1 cornerback with the recently re-signed Cameron Sutton as the likely starter on the other side. The Steelers also have former third-round pick Justin Layne as a candidate to play a greater role on the outside, as well as former undrafted free agent James Pierre, who made the 53-man roster as a rookie last year out of Florida Atlantic University. Also on the roster is Trevor Williams, a former starter for the Los Angeles Chargers who signed a Reserve/Future contract earlier this year.
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