[The Cowboys have a long list of their own free agents to consider but reality is that several will not return. In this series, we’ll look at the many free agents set to hit the open market in 2020 and if any of those might be of interest to the Cowboys. Below is a list of profiles from this series:]
DT Mike Daniels
SAF Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
SAF Karl Joseph (Raiders)
Back in the 2016 draft, Karl Joseph was taken by the Oakland Raiders with the 14th overall pick, 10 picks after Ezekiel Elliott was taken. Joseph would play 12 games as a rookie, backing up starting strong safety, Nate Allen. In his rookie year, Joseph recorded 60 tackles, six PBU’s, a TFL, a fumble recovery, and an interception. Joseph contributed to a Raiders team that was 10-2 but he missed the final four games with a toe injury. The Raiders finished 12-4 and Joseph returned for a postseason debut. Joseph recorded four solo tackles in a 27-14 loss to the Texans.
In his second season, Joseph started all but one game where he was sidelined with a groin injury. In 2017, he finished the season with 79 tackles, four PBU’s, a sack, a forced fumble, and an interception. The Raiders managed to win just six games that season and coach Jack Del Rio would be replaced by Jon Gruden in the offseason. Joseph received an 80.8 grade according to PFF, ranking him 35th of all eligible safeties in 2017. In his first year under Gruden, Joseph played just 13 games, starting eight of them, as the Raiders flirted with possibly trading him ahead of the trade deadline. Joseph would finish the 2018 season with 48 tackles, two TFL’s, two sacks, two PBU’s, and an interception. Joseph would be PFF’s highest-rated defender for the Raiders in 2018.
Though many believed the Raiders were going to be moving on from him this past offseason, Joseph stuck around as the starting strong safety. He started only nine games and was placed on IR after suffering a foot injury in week 10. Joseph finished second on the team with 48 tackles, four TFL’s, three PBU’s, and an interception. The Raiders declined to pick up Joseph’s fifth-year option making him a free agent this offseason.
We all know that the Cowboys will be in the market for some help on the back end of their defense. After flirting with Earl Thomas for the better part of two years, the Cowboys have still not made any moves to shore up the position. The front office is perfectly content with Xavier Woods being their free safety and he’s shown enough upside to remain a starter going forward. Karl Joseph is regarded more as a strong safety-type and he’s shown that he can be a quality starter. Some might be hesitant with the fact that he hasn’t started a full season in four years but it wasn’t all due to injuries. Once Gruden came in and his staff was hired, they dropped Joseph’s snap counts. When looking at his career thus far, you see a guy that produces when he’s on the field. Plus, it currently doesn’t look like Karl Joseph will be in demand with other options on the market. The Cowboys might be able to get Joseph on the roster without committing a ton of guaranteed money.
If the Cowboys still have some residual interest in Joseph, he was reportedly on their radar in the 2016 draft, it would make sense to bring him in to compete for Jeff Heath’s job. Over the years, Heath has been a decent contributor but he really struggled to tackle consistently this past season. The Cowboys need a more reliable starting safety that can remain in position and be a force in the running game. Perhaps, Joseph could fill that role alongside Xavier Woods, giving the Cowboys a better safety tandem on game day.