The Raiders continue to be the NFL’s most active team in free agency. Adding Lamarcus Joyner should really help Jon Gruden’s defense next season.
Jon Gruden axed a number of veterans during his first season in charge of the Raiders, but this offseason he’s finally started to add pieces back to his roster. Lamarcus Joyner is the latest player to sign on for Gruden’s reconstruction of the Raiders.
The acquisitions of Antonio Brown and Trent Brown are going to dominate the headlines, but signing Joyner may be just as important. He will slot into the starting lineup next to Karl Joseph to form a really talented safety duo for Gruden and his coaching staff.
Paul Gutierrez of ESPN is reporting that Joyner will ink a four-year contract that will pay him $10.5 million per season. That will make him the fifth highest paid safety in the NFL for the time being. That ranking is likely going to go down once some other big name safeties sign new deals in the coming days.
The biggest thing Joyner will add to the Raiders secondary is speed. He can run with the fastest receivers in the NFL. That’s going to give Gruden’s defense a lot more options heading into the 2019 season.
Just because Joyner can run doesn’t mean he’s a perfect safety. There’s plenty of reason to be concerned about his lack of height. Measuring in at just 5-foot-8 means he can be taken advantage of by big receivers down the field.
At the very least, officials around the NFL have taken notice of what the Raiders are doing. Plenty of people are curious to see what Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock will do next.
People can criticize Joyner’s height, but the truth is that if he was 6-foot-3 he’d be the best safety in the NFL. His small stature is the only reason Oakland were able to get him on a deal that will pay him less than $11 million per season.
Joyner’s versatility really increases the potential value of the deal. He is a guy who can match up in single coverage against high quality slot receivers around the NFL. That skill is particularly valuable when you play in a division that requires you to face the Chiefs and Chargers a grand total of four times every season.
Joyner isn’t the sort of player who is going to single-handedly make the Raiders defense great on his own, but he’s a solid step forward for a franchise that needs a serious talent infusion. Don’t be surprised if Joyner turns out to be the biggest bargain Gruden is able to come up with this offseason.