Any upgrade is a good upgrade. While seeming trite, it still rings true for the Oakland Raiders’ defensive back corps. After an abysmal 2018 season, the Raiders needed a tune-up. One of the team’s biggest struggles resides in the secondary. While it was not the only reason the Raiders lost games, having your team’s defensive backs getting torched game after game certainly does not help.
In order to combat this, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock knew moves needed to happen, as signing Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams only gives the Raiders’ safeties elite speed to practice against. Realizing this was not enough; the Raiders’ front office went and signed Lamarcus Joyner from the LA Rams.
Like the Raiders, Lamarcus Joyner had a rough 2018 season. Following a Pro Bowl season in 2017, the Rams had high expectations for Joyner, but he was unable to live up to the expectations and “disappointed” in 2018. Although his tackles increased significantly, Joyner’s interceptions fell. The Pro Bowl safety recorded one interception for five yards in 2018.
Nevertheless, this may all come down to the timeless adage that a change of scenery can work wonders for a player. The Raiders clearly saw something they liked in Joyner and, with one of the biggest salary caps in the NFL this year; the team decided Joyner would be a great addition for the team.
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Worth the Risk
The best comparison for Joyner is comparing his 2017 to Oakland’s free safeties from 2018 in which Joyner recorded three interceptions while the Raiders’ free safeties recorded five. Three interceptions would be the most for a free safety on the Raiders last year.
To put things simply, Joyner will help the team significantly, especially when sharing the field with cornerbacks Rashaan Melvin and Gareon Conley. The Raiders started building up their defensive back corps last year with the signing of Melvin and the emergence of Conley, but still needed additions to the safety positions.
The biggest question facing this signing is whether the Raiders can get Joyner back to his Pro Bowl ways. If they can, the Raiders will have an incredible defensive back corps with much room to grow. If not, Joyner is still an upgrade from last season.
As for expectations, Raiders fans can look for Joyner to provide help with run stopping as well as pass defense. Having a safety that can stop the run is critical for the Raiders as the team struggled to stop anyone making it past the second line of defense and in to the last line (safety’s area 10-12+ yards past the line of scrimmage.
At 5’8” and 190 pounds, Joyner plays bigger than his vitals will show. Described as a tough, hard-nosed player, Joyner seeks contact on run plays but can also cover taller players due to his impressive quickness and vertical. Even if the Raiders cannot bring Joyner back to his 2017 ways, the team has received a great player that could be classified (Gruden) grinder.