The choice to leave the option untouched means that Joseph will be playing in a contract year in 2019 with free agency around the corner when the new league year begins. Last season, the West Virginia product set new career lows with only 34.0 solo tackles and 14 assists while also playing in a career-worst 474 snaps in 13 games.
Oakland drafted Johnathan Abram with the 27th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and picked up Lamarcus Joyner and Curtis Riley over the offseason, making Joseph's role uncertain heading into the upcoming 2019 campaign. The Raiders have made it pretty evident that they plan to head in a different direction after this season, but that doesn't mean Joseph can't win the starting strong safety job in what figures to be his last year with the team.
Joseph is part of a safety group that now includes No. 27 overall draft pick Johnathan Abram, holdover Erik Harris and offseason signings Lamarcus Joyner and Curtis Riley, Matt Kawahara of The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Joyner is the only one locked in for an every-down role, but the Raiders have hinted at using him as a slot cornerback rather than a safety in nickel packages. That plan might open things up a bit for Joseph, a disappointing 2016 first-round pick who finally appeared to make progress during the second half of 2018. The Raiders may have a trade in mind, but it's also possible they're just trying to stockpile depth on the back end. Joseph still has some upside for IDP purposes if he can lock down the starting job at strong safety.
Joseph started the 2018 season on a low note by player a mere 11 defensive snaps through the Raiders' Week 7 bye, but finished the season starting the final eight games. The 25-year-old had 48 tackles (34 solo), two sacks and one interception, and apparently showcased enough of his potential for the team to pick up the option, though the money doesn't become guaranteed until after the 2019 season.
Joseph accrued four tackles (three solo) during Sunday's 35-3 loss to the Chiefs.
Joseph began his 2018 campaign in the dog house with just 11 defensive snaps heading into the Raiders' bye in Week 7, but he would eventually solidify himself as the team's starting strong safety upon a return to full health from a hamstring injury. The former first-rounder had even landed on the trade block at one point, but he finished the season with 48 tackles (34 solo), two sacks, two passes defensed and an interception in 13 games. He'll likely remain with the team in 2019 with one year left on his rookie contract, though a fifth-year option would become available the following season.
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