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Raiders release LaMarcus Joyner after disappointing impact on defense

Should the Rams bring him back to LA?

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders signed former Rams DB LaMarcus Joyner to a four-year, $42 million contract in 2019, with $16.7 million guaranteed. LA’s franchise tagged player in 2018, Joyner managed to cash in a large payday after playing a variety of roles on the Rams defense over his five-year tenure with the team. Unfortunately for the Raiders, there was little value to Joyner’s versatility or his ability over the first two years of the contract, so the team released him on Monday in order to save nearly $10 million against the 2021 and 2022 caps.

Despite Ian Rapoport calling him a “starter” in the tweet announcement of his release (NFL media is quick to overrate any player who hits the market, as “starter” sure sounds like it will be more interesting to people than “guy who just got released because the NFL’s worst defense didn’t want him to start for them anymore”), Joyner saw his playing time decrease in 2020 and he only technically started six of his 14 games.

Joyner played a variety of roles for the Raiders, if only because he wasn’t quite good enough to be cemented in as a cornerback or a safety despite how badly Las Vegas needed a quality player at either position. This is not to say that Joyner has no value or that he won’t be a starter next season, only that he failed to make the impact that Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock hoped for when he was signed.

Joyner went from playing in 90% of the snaps for the Rams in 2018, to playing in 68% of the snaps in 2019, and 62% of the snaps in 2020. This is not due to injury, as Joyner has played in 15, 14, and 14 games over the last three seasons, respectively. During his two seasons with the Raiders, he had 94 tackles, eight passes defensed, zero interceptions, five touchdowns allowed (per Pro-Football-Reference), and 13 missed tackles. He blitzed 36 times over the last two years, forcing one pressure (a QB hurry).

But Los Angeles could be in need of a veteran defensive back and Joyner has a built-in familiarity with the team. With Troy Hill and John Johnson hitting free agency, a much more cost efficient Joyner (as compared to 2019) might be the best direction to go in because then his versatility does become more valuable.

Would you welcome back LaMarcus Joyner?