Joyner signed his $11.29 million franchise tag with the Rams on Monday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. The Rams placed the tag on Joyner a little over a month ago, but there was still the possibility that the defensive back would seek out a long-term deal with the team before the July 16th deadline. However, with Joyner signing the tag Monday morning, he is now officially under contract with the team and will be able to start participating in offseason workouts immediately. Joyner is coming off a very productive 2017 campaign as a safety in Los Angeles, racking up 49 tackles and three interceptions.
The Rams placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on Joyner prior to Tuesday's 4:00 p.m. EST deadline. While there was initially some thought Sammy Watkins might receive the tag, it became clear the past few days Joyner would be the pick. The tag is far cheaper for safeties than for wideouts, and Joyner simply was better than Watkins in 2017. Primarily a cornerback his first three seasons, the 2014 second-round pick excelled in his first year as a full-time safety in 2017, tallying 49 tackles, three interceptions, nine passes defensed and a forced fumble in 12 games. Joyner's excellent work in coverage played a major role in the Rams' ability to limit opposing quarterbacks to a 58.4 completion percentage and 78.4 passer rating, without the benefit of top-notch cornerback play. With Marcus Peters set to replace Trumaine Johnson as the team's top corner, Joyner may get more opportunities for tackles and interceptions. Other teams technically can still offer the safety a contract, but they'd need to surrender two first-round picks if the Rams don't match an offer sheet. Joyner and the Rams will now try to hammer out a long-term deal before the July 16 deadline for franchise-tagged players.
Joyner finished as the third-highest rated safety in the league during the 2017 season, according to Pro Football Focus. Not only was 2017 easily the best season of Joyner's career, it came in the final year of his contract. He'll be chasing a sizeable pay raise now, and the Rams will likely look to keep him around after the success the entire defense had this season. It's definitely worth noting that he sustained a hamstring injury that cost three games and also played through a shoulder ailment late in the year, so there's potential for even better results with a clean bill of health and a full season of experience as a starter entering 2018.
Joyner (shoulder) was a full participant at Friday's practice and is slated to play in Sunday's game against the Eagles as a result. Joyner was able to shed his injury designation heading into the weekend after failing to practice on Thursday due to a shoulder injury. Through nine games this season, Joyner has logged 34 tackles, nine passes defensed, three interceptions and a defensive touchdown.
Joyner (shoulder) did not practice Thursday but is expected to play this Sunday against the Eagles, Myles Simmons the Rams' official site reports. It's unknown when Joyner suffered the shoulder injury, as he logged 64 snaps in Sunday's win over the Cardinals. However, the Rams will be cautious with the safety, as they will need him to help defend against Carson Wentz and the high-flying Eagles.
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