NFL

Karl Joseph returns to Raiders: Former first-round pick explains decision to reunite in Las Vegas

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© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reunited and it feels so good. That’s more or less the vibe safety Karl Joseph is giving off nowadays, after visiting with the Las Vegas Raiders last week and ultimately agreeing to re-sign with the club — the team announced. It’s now the second act for Joseph with the organization, after having been its first-round selection in 2016 and having not taken a snap in Nevada. That was also mostly under a different regime entirely, his time with head coach Jon Gruden held to only two seasons after the Raiders opted to not pick up Joseph’s fifth-year option for 2020, a move that led to a divorce at the time. 

Joseph then signed on with the Cleveland Browns, active in 14 games and logging eight starts last season. Needing help in the secondary for the coming season, the Raiders find themselves back with the former All-Big 12 talent out of West Virginia, who wants to make it clear the decision to part ways was a one-sided affair.

“I never wanted to leave,” Joseph said, via the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “This is my home. I was drafted here. I feel like I was born to be a Raider.”

The goal for Joseph in 2021 is basically a continuation of what he was attempting to do before the split: showing Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock why the team coveted him so highly in 2016, before they both arrived. Mayock joined the Raiders in 2019 and one of his first orders of business was declining Joseph’s fifth-year option, but the veteran holds no ill will. Instead, he’s looking forward to extending his stay this time around, and getting back to the form that earned him PFWA All-Rookie Team honors.

“It felt like the right decision was to come back and help finish what I started here and be a part of that,” Joseph said.

Joseph started in 41 of his 49 games when the team was in Oakland, grabbing four interceptions and delivering 174 combined tackles in the process, along with three sacks and three fumble recoveries. Those are numbers he’s looking to build upon as he heads to Las Vegas — back for the first time.



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