[A new contract is] the least of me and my agent’s concerns. For now, we know what [the contract] is. We have something already written in stone, and I’m just ready to go to work on the football field.
I’m not focused on wealth. I’m just focused on the passion I have for the game. That’s all.
That’s Los Angeles Rams S Lamarcus Joyner after yesterday’s organized team activities session per the Orange County Register’s Rich Hammond talking about his contractual negotiations having been franchise tagged in March.
Translation: He’s not getting a new deal. At least not now. The question is what could possibly change between now and next year when Joyner would again be an unrestricted free agent as he was scheduled to be this offseason.
Joyner’s the latest example that the Rams continue to value defensive backs less than the open market under contract negotiations duo Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff and Special Assistant Tony Pastoors. Since those two were hired by the Rams five defensive backs have gone on to earn lucrative, multi-year deals elsewhere: S Darian Stewart, CB Janoris Jenkins, S Rodney McLeod, S T.J. McDonald and CB Trumaine Johnson, the latter four comprising General Manager Les Snead’s famous “Priority A.”
Given the Rams’ ability to replace those defensive backs though begs the question of how concerned fans should be.
The Rams failed to re-sign a single member of Priority A replacing them ultimately with CB Marcus Peters, CB Aqib Talib, S John Johnson III and Joyner who moved to safety for Head Coach Sean McVay and Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips from a slot cornerback role under former Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher and former Rams Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams. Joyner’s replacement in the slot, CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, played well in 2017 and earned a contract extension though as a slot corner that deal was less expensive than an extension at any other DB position reinforcing the Rams’ predilection for avoiding major long-term contracts in the secondary.
Of course, that concern leads to a pretty obvious fork in the road: the expiration of the two deals on the Rams’ starting cornerbacks in Peters and Talib. The two have yet to take a single snap together as Rams and earn an extension, but if they are able to play up to billing, Rams fans are likely to want to keep the band together. Talib, at 32-years old, is still performing at a high level having been named the 53rd best player in the NFL in the NFL Top 100 as voted on by the players themselves. Peters himself came in at #79. And while Talib is set to make $19m over the next two years on a deal he signed with the Denver Broncos in 2014, Peters is still on his rookie deal with his fifth-year option keeping him locked up in 2019 meaning he’ll make less than $2m this year and less than $10m next season, far less than his market value.
Whether it’s Joyner or Peters or DL Aaron Donald or RB Todd Gurley or QB Jared Goff, the Rams have major contract decisions to make in the future. Given their deals to WR Tavon Austin and ILB Alec Ogletree and the outcomes for Johnson, WR Sammy Watkins with Joyner likely gone and Donald still waiting, I’m not sure what to point to to provide Rams fans with legitimate reason to believe that the best players being groomed are going to get paid at market rates except for faith.
And this aint church.