Jon Gruden said the Raiders anticipated picking up safety Karl Joseph's fifth-year option, an inclination without outright guarantee.
The Silver and Black's head coach said that at the NFL Scouting Combine, well before selecting fellow safety Johnathan Abram last week with the No. 27 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.
General manager Mike Mayock was noncommittal about Joseph's option after the draft, saying that was a conversation he would have directly with the 2016 first-round pick.
That sit down didn't come with good news.
The Raiders won't exercise Joseph's fifth-year option before Friday's deadline to do so, NFL Network reported Thursday night. That means the West Virginia alum will enter a contract year in 2020, and make $2.07 million fully guaranteed this season.
Then he will enter the open market next March if he doesn't reach a deal with the Raiders before the new league year. Joseph would've been scheduled to make $6.466 million in 2020 under the fifth-year option, a sum immediately guaranteed for injury and fully guaranteed upon the start of the league year.
The Raiders last declined 2013 first-round pick DJ Hayden's fifth-round option, and then did so with Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Both of those players have been traded since before their fifth NFL season.
Joseph started the 2018 season down on the depth chart while struggled to master his role in Paul Guenther's defense. Then he got hurt in Week 3, and was subject to trade rumors around midseason. He stayed mentally tough, improved within the scheme and played some solid football over the season's final stretch.
The Raiders found a role for him as a physical tone-setter who often played in the box, occasionally as a blitzer. He had 48 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and two passes defensed over 13 games, a total that included eight starts.
Joseph was recovering from ACL surgery when former Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie drafted him, and he grew into a larger role as a rookie. He started 15 games in 2017, with 58 tackles and a pick.
Joseph's 2019 starting spot came into serious jeopardy after Abram was drafted in the first round, a point emphasized by Gruden complimenting the Mississippi State safety and the clear bond between the two.
Joseph is a competitor and will fight for a larger role on a defense that will need three safeties playing significant snaps, with Lamarcus Joyner playing so much in the slot. This is a sign, however, that Joseph might not fall into the Raiders' long-term plan, especially with Joyner and Abram seemingly set for a long-term partnership at safety.