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Raiders bring back safety Karl Joseph for 2nd stint

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The Las Vegas Raiders are bringing former first-round safety Karl Joseph back for a second stint with the franchise.

The Raiders signed Joseph to a one-year contract Friday to add needed depth in the secondary. Joseph was drafted in the first round by the Raiders in 2016 but left to sign for one year as a free agent in Cleveland last offseason.

“I never wanted to leave,” Joseph said. “This is my home. I was drafted here. I feel like I was born to be a Raider. Got the opportunity to speak to coach (Jon) Gruden and I knew I had to come take a visit and sit down and talk to him. And we spoke for a while yesterday and it felt right.”

Joseph is just the third player taken in the first round by the Raiders in the common-draft era to return for a second stint with the franchise after leaving. Tight end Raymond Chester and Hall of Famer Charles Woodson are the others.

Joseph was drafted 14th overall by the previous regime led by general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Jack Del Rio.

The 27-year-old Joseph played 49 games at both strong and free safety in his four seasons with the Raiders, intercepting four passes, with 15 passes defensed, three sacks, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.

Joseph started all nine games in his final season in 2019 with the Raiders before going down with a season-ending foot injury while making a game-sealing interception against the Chargers.

Joseph started eight of his 14 games he played last season for the Browns when he had 67 tackles and one interception. He also recovered a fumble for a touchdown on the first snap from scrimmage of Cleveland’s playoff win over Pittsburgh.

He played one game against the Raiders, which reinforced his ties to the organization.

“I realized how much I miss these guys here, just dapping some of those guys up after the game, it felt like I never really left,” he said. “It felt like that was still like my family, hugging some of those guys after the game, even shared a few words with Coach Gruden after the game.”

The Raiders were in need of help at safety where they are trying to find a free safety to pair with Johnathan Abram. Joseph has more experience playing strong safety but could be an option to replace Erik Harris, who left as a free agent, at free safety if needed.

“We played one game together his rookie year and he went down, unfortunately,” Joseph said. “I’m looking forward to getting back out there and competing with him and helping to push each other to be our best self. So, I’m excited to play with all those guys.”

Las Vegas also could still target a free safety high in the draft this month but now have an option with a veteran if needed.

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More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer

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