As first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Jets have signed Joyner to a one-year contract (later reported to be worth $4.5 million) and he’s expected to play safety with the team.
This comes after a pair of years spent with the Raiders where he was forced to play the nickel cornerback position, much to his chagrin. And it’s easy to see why Joyner wanted to play safety again.
Joyner struggled mightily at cornerback with the Raiders after the team signed him to a hefty four-year, $42 million contract a few years back.
Now with the Jets, he’ll get the opportunity to return back to his natural position.
Lamarcus Joyner adds extra depth to the NY Jets’ secondary
A second-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams (then St. Louis) in the 2014 NFL Draft, Joyner spent the first five years of his career with the Rams developing into an extremely reliable starting safety.
Joyner started eight games in 2016 earning a Pro Football Focus grade of 67.3 that ranked middle of the pack at his position. But after assuming a full-time starting role in 2017, he put together the best year of his career by a long stretch.
The Florida State product finished with an elite 90.9 PFF grade that ranked second at his position. He was quite literally one of the best safeties in football that year.
His play slipped a little in 2018, as did his PFF grade that slid to 73.1, but he was still one of the better safeties in the league. That’s why when the Raiders signed him to a sizable contract in the offseason, it was seen as a big win for the organization.
Unfortunately, they didn’t ask him to play the position he had excelled at while with the Rams. Jon Gruden and company saw Joyner as a nickel cornerback and pigeonholed him into that role.
The results were pretty disastrous.
Only five cornerbacks (out of 115) finished with a worse PFF grade than Joyner in 2019 and his 2020 season wasn’t much better. Two years into his contract, the Raiders opted to cut ties this offseason.
If the plan is to play Joyner at safety, then the Jets should have an excellent trio of safeties heading into the 2021 season. Paired with Marcus Maye and Ashtyn Davis, Joyner could play an important role in Robert Saleh’s defense as the former defensive coordinator is known for his three-safety packages.
Lamarcus Joyner could revitalize his career back at his natural free safety position under the tutelage of Saleh.
If he plays as well as he did the last time we saw him at safety, this could be a steal for Gang Green.