Karl Joseph is about to experience something new. The Raiders safety is set to complete his first NFL offseason program. It’s something he missed as a rookie while recovering from surgery to repair an ACL originally torn at West Virginia.
That didn’t stop the Raiders from draft Joseph No. 14 overall in 2016, as the first safety off the board.
He didn’t return to action until training camp, and was eased into regular-season game action. Joseph’s first start marked his first defensive NFL snaps, and it was a place occupied most of the season. A Week 13 injury put him back on the shelf and kept him there until the playoffs.
He returned in a wild card round loss at Houston after a tough bout with turf toe, but didn’t finish as strong as he planned. He ultimately finished with 60 tackles and an interception in nine regular-season starts. He ended up on PFWA’s all-rookie team, but expected better.
He’s excited to start the Raiders offseason program next week. Head coach Jack Del Rio believes that will prelude an improved sophomore season.
“Karl is going to take a big step forward this year in his development, just with comfort and an understanding of what’s expected of him,” Del Rio said. “Coming in, being healthy and having a full body of work, I feel like a confident Karl Joseph is going to be a much more impactful guy.”
Raiders general Reggie McKenzie plans to extend quarterback Derek Carr’s contract this offseason. That isn’t a new thing, something that has been in the works for some time. He re-affirmed that fact last week, citing his team’s commitment to work out a long-term deal likely the biggest in franchise history.
Carr was reportedly frustrated with the pace of contract talks after the NFL draft – they’re supposed to heat up this spring and summer – but said he believes a deal will get worked out before training camp begins.
That’s his deadline for an offseason deal, the point where he wants focus honed on football.
“I have an agent who is in charge of that and I am confident that he and Mr. (Reggie) McKenzie will work it out,” Carr, a Fresno State alum, told the Fresno Bee. “I am only focused on becoming a better football player and helping my teammates become better players.
“I have complete faith it will get done before training camp. These things take time. The Raiders know I want to be here; this is my family, and I know they want me to be their quarterback.”
The sides have discussed parameters of a long-term deal, with greater specifics to be ironed out in the future. Carr has long said he wants to be a Raider his entire career. The Raiders want him as the public face of their franchise. A new deal is expected by all parties, a sentiment that has never wavered on either side.
Carr is scheduled to make a $977,519 in base salary in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract.
The Raiders offseason program is five weeks old. Players have lifted weights. They’ve improved cardiovascular shape. They’ve done drills in position groups and discussed schematics. They’ve added rookies to a group now 90 strong.
On Monday, they can finally put on helmets. They still can’t wear pads or have full contact, but the Raiders can play 11-on-11. Receivers will be covered. Quarterback Derek Carr will throw into traffic. Generally speaking, the competition cranks up a bit.
The NFL collective bargaining agreement has strict mandates regarding offseason activity, and a period formally called “Phase III” allows for more realistic on-field football work.
The Raiders will conduct 10 OTA sessions over the next three weeks. The media can watch three of them. Tuesday is the first, with another in each of the next two weeks. These sessions are technically voluntary, though the Raiders generally hover around perfect attendance. Head coach Jack Del Rio prefers his team be unified in the offseason. Players know it and show up.
There is a mandatory minicamp from June 13-15 which wraps the offseason program and starts a quiet period that extends until training camp begins in late July.
These OTAs offer an opportunity for new players to learn the system, for adjustments to be made and for chemistry to be built heading into a 2017 season where expectations are high.