Rams News: Los Angeles Place Franchise Tag On Lamarcus Joyner

The Los Angeles Rams had a major pending decision on their hands heading into the deadline to potentially use of the franchise tag for the 2018 season. Over the last few weeks, the front office had seemingly narrowed down the choice to between safety Lamarcus Joyner and wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

There had been some indication that the Rams were leaning towards placing the designation on Joyner to keep him under contract. According to Ian Rapoport of The NFL Network, Los Angeles made that choice official by putting the franchise tag on the 27-year-old to keep him in the fold at through the 2018 campaign:

The decision to use that designation on Joyner looks to have come down to the higher value that the Rams have on him over Watkins. It should also be noted that the team has lost several key defensive backs over the last few offseasons with the departure of Janoris Jenkins, T.J. McDonald, and Rodney McLeod all through free agency.

Joyner has also developed into one of the more promising young safeties through his first four years in the league. His versatile skill set and ability to play multiple positions helped him excel in a dual role as both a nickel coverage cornerback and safety in his first three years. In his first full season as the full-time starting safety, Joyner further cemented his place in the secondary after recording 49 total tackles with a forced fumble, and three career interceptions despite playing in only 12 games.

Although the Rams decided to give Joyner the franchise tag instead, the front office is still expected to aggressively pursue a new deal with Watkins. In his first season with Los Angeles, the 24-year-old recorded 39 catches for 593 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns in 15 games played.

It was a notable decline in production for Watkins, however, that was a result of the team possessing a talented receiving core with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp both emerging as productive assets in the passing game. Los Angeles still has the opportunity to work out a deal with him in the days leading up to the start of the free agency period.