Lamarcus Joyner

No Deals For Bell, Lawrence, Ansah, Or Joyner

None of this year’s franchise tagged players agreed to extensions with their respective teams before Monday’s deadline. That means Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, and Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner will all play on their tags in 2018. 

Over the weekend, we heard that deals were unlikely for any of the four players. However, we’ve been surprised in the past. You may recall the 2016 franchise tag extension deadline in which Muhammad Wilkerson and the Jets agreed to a buzzer-beating deal after weeks of reports indicating that it would not happen (the Jets certainly wish it hadn’t happened now).

There was no surprise this year, so the four franchise tagged players are all entering contract seasons at the following rates:

  • Ezekiel Ansah – $17.1MM
  • DeMarcus Lawrence – $17.1MM
  • Le’Veon Bell – $14.5MM
  • Lamarcus Joyner – ~$12MM

This marks the first ever franchise tag for Ansah, Lawrence, and Joyner. For Bell, this is the second go ’round and it’s incredibly unlikely that the Steelers will consider a third tag, no matter how good he is in 2018.

Per league rules, extension talks cannot resume between the team and the tagged player until after the 2018 season has concluded.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Franchise-Tagged Players

Monday’s 3pm CT deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions may come and go without one being finalized.

After a Saturday report indicated re-ups were unlikely for DeMarcus Lawrence and Ziggy Ansah, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirmed Ansah and the Lions won’t agree to terms by Monday afternoon and adds Lawrence is unlikely to come to terms with the Cowboys (Twitter links).

As for the other two tagged players, prospects also appear grim. Schefter reports (on Twitter) Lamarcus Joyner is not expected to reach an extension with the Rams, though he adds the sides are still discussing one. And despite Mike Tomlin‘s hopes of Le’Veon Bell finally agreeing to a Steelers accord, Schefter reports (via Twitter) that’s unlikely, too. However, the Steelers and Bell have made recent progress and will keep trying until the deadline. But this report throws some cold water on an 11th-hour solution coming to pass.

Ansah and the Lions have been far apart throughout this process, and the Lions are planning to see if their top edge defender can stay healthy and prove reliable enough for a long-term commitment. The Cowboys may be using the same strategy with their injury-prone pass rusher, despite making a stronger effort to discuss a deal with Lawrence.

Bell and the Steelers have been circling each other for years, but if the parties can’t agree by Monday afternoon, their arrangement will be a full-fledged rental situation. Bell will likely be headed toward the 2019 UFA market if the Steelers don’t sign him by Monday. The Rams’ issues with Aaron Donald‘s deal leave Joyner in a strange spot. Los Angeles possesses a league-low $2MM in cap space and has a glut of contract calls coming — Donald, Joyner, Brandin Cooks, Todd Gurley, Marcus Peters — in what will be a complicated stretch for the now-high-profile team.

Of course, by the Lions, Cowboys and Rams not agreeing on deals with their tagged performers, that ups prices down the line. Since Bell has already been twice tagged, it would cost the Steelers a staggering $20MM-plus to tag their All-Pro back again.

Ansah is going to play this season for $17.1MM, and if Lawrence indeed is still without a deal by Monday evening, he will too. Joyner will count nearly $12MM on the Rams’ payroll, while Bell’s $14.5MM 2018 salary has been well-known for months by NFL contract buffs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Rams, Joyner, Eagles, Redskins, Dez Bryant

The deadline to reach deals with players who were franchised tagged was set by the league as July 16th. If a player and a team can’t agree on a deal by then, they aren’t allowed to agree to a longterm deal until after the 2018 season is over. One notable player who’s been tagged is Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner. Joyner remains unsigned, and there has been little progress on a deal according to recent reports. Fellow Rams defensive star Aaron Donald might be one reason why.

The Rams “would probably have a hard time giving big money to Joyner before finally extending the contract of” Donald, writes Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Given how much talk there has been about when Donald will get the contract extension he’s been wanting for over a year now, it might be bad optics for the team to extend Joyner first. Rams fans have been growing impatient with the front office over their inability to cut a deal with Donald. Donald held out all summer last year and ended up missing the first game of the season. If the Rams are reluctant to pay Joyner before Donald is locked up, it could mean Joyner heads into 2019 an unrestricted free agent.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Breaking down the Eagles’ secondary, Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com sees a three way battle for the team’s final cornerback spot between De’Vante BausbyD.J. Killings, and Chandon Sullivan. Shorr-Parks thinks Bausby is clearly in the lead and well on his way to a roster spot, whereas Killings and Sullivan will need to have “amazing” training camps and preseasons to make the 53-man roster.
  • Dez Bryant will end up with the Redskins when he finally signs, predicts Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com (Twitter link). Fitzgerald, a salary cap expert, thinks Bryant “won’t get much” in terms of compensation on whatever deal he signs.
  • In case you missed it, another player who’s been franchised tagged and is looking for an extension, DeMarcus Lawrence, will meet with the Cowboys next week to talk about a deal.

 

July 16 Marks NFL’s Franchise Tag Extension Deadline

This year, the deadline for teams to reach extensions with franchise tagged players falls on July 16. If the following four players do not agree to new contracts in the coming days, they will be ticketed for free agency in 2019:

For Bell, the absence of a deal all but guarantees that he will be allowed to explore the open market next season. That’s because this is the second year in a row that Bell has been hit with the tag. He’ll make $14.544MM this season if no extension deal is reached, but a third tag would cost Pittsburgh more than $20MM. For the rest, the possibility of a second franchise tag remains, though the requisite 20% increase could prevent teams from applying the tender.

The rules of the franchise tag dictate that teams have until mid-July to hammer out an extension with players. If not, the two sides are barred from engaging in contract talks until after the season has concluded.

From 2013-2017, 16 of the league’s 33 franchise tagged players agreed to extensions before the summer deadline. This year, it’s hard to say whether deals will be reached for any of the players in question. Bell is looking for a deal that will reflect his production as a top running back and a No. 2 wide receiver. The defensive ends, Ansah and Lawrence, know that teams are willing to overpay for quality edge rushers in free agency. Joyner, meanwhile, may be content to let the Rams control his fate since he’ll either make $11MM+ this year and hit free agency, or earn $25MM through two franchise tags and reach the open market in 2020.

Then again, a serious injury could derail any member of this quartet, so there’s something to be said for financial security over monetary upside. Joyner, in particular, could be quietly eager to sign a multi-year deal after watching a dismal free agent safety market play out this offseason.

What we do know for sure is that the next 12 days will be worth monitoring.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Diggs, Rams, Joyner

Here’s a look at the NFC:

  • There’s a good chance that Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and wide receiver Stefon Diggs will hit the open market in 2019 if they don’t sign contract extensions, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) opines. Corry estimates that the linebacker and wide receiver franchise tags will be $16.325MM and $17MM, respectively, and that may be too pricey for Minnesota’s liking. On Wednesday, we evaluated Barr as an extension candidate.
  • Kirk Cousins‘ open-minded approach to the franchise tag should serve as inspiration to this year’s franchise tagged players, Albert Breer of The MMQB argues. That includes Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner, who is set to make $11.287MM this year and would call for a $13.544MM salary if tagged again next year. By standing pat, Joyner would receive either $11.287MM this year and a trip to free agency in March, or nearly $25MM across two seasons before hitting the open market in 2020. That could give Joyner the confidence he needs to stand his ground in extension talks, though this year’s disappointing free agent market for safeties could also steer him towards taking a deal.
  • Eagles running back Matt Jones knows that he needs to get it together if he wants to stick in the NFL. “It could be [my last chance],” Jones said (via Tom Moore of The Morning Call). “That don’t scare me at all. I got my eyes on the prize. I’m here and I’m ready to work.” Jones inked a two-year, $1.5MM deal with the Eagles this offseason, but the contract contains zero guarantees.

Rams S Lamarcus Joyner Signs Tender

Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner has signed his $11.287MM franchise tag, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). After inking the deal, Joyner participated in the Rams’ offseason workout program, which kicked off on Monday. 

In March, the Rams wrestled with the decision to franchise tag either Joyner or wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Ultimately, they tagged Joyner and allowed Watkins to test the open market. Watkins signed a surprisingly lucrative three-year, $48MM deal with the Chiefs with a whopping $30MM guaranteed at signing, numbers that were too rich for the Rams’ blood.

Joyner doesn’t have the same name value as Watkins, but he is a tremendous player in his own right. After spending most of his career at cornerback, Joyner moved to free safety in 2017 and enjoyed a breakout season. In 2017, Joyner started 12 games and graded out as the third-best safety in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.

This year, Joyner will return as the Rams’ starting free safety, but the rest of the secondary will look decidedly different. Trade acquisitions Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib will be starting at cornerback while veteran Sam Shields will help support them from the bench. In the middle, rising sophomore John Johnson will start at strong safety.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Tag Lamarcus Joyner

The Rams have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on safety Lamarcus Joyner. Because each team is only allowed to tag one player per offseason, this means that Sammy Watkins will be ticketed for free agency unless the two sides come to an agreement between now and March 14. 

[RELATED: Rams Trade Robert Quinn to Dolphins]

The Rams are still intent on keeping Watkins, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Although the Rams value both players, tagging Joyner was the less costly option. The franchise tag for safeties this year is $11.287MM. Conversely, the tag for wide receivers is $15.982MM.

The Rams have a fair amount of flexibility this offseason, so an extension for Watkins could still be in the cards. At the same time, they’ll have to factor for future deals with running back Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. On the plus side, their recent trade of Robert Quinn to the Dolphins has opened up additional room.

Joyner, a 2014 second-rounder, never started more than eight games in a season until 2017. He shifted from cornerback to free safety in his contract year and broke out in a big way. Last season, Joyner started 12 contests and graded out as the third-best safety in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.

The Rams have until July 16 to hammer out a long-term deal with Joyner. If the two sides are unable to reach a multi-year accord, Joyner will play out the 2018 season under the terms of his one-year tender.

Before the tag, Joyner profiled as the top available safety in free agency. Now, the best safeties available include the likes of Eric Reid, Morgan Burnett, Tre Boston, Kenny Vaccaro, Bradley McDougald, Tyvon Branch, and Marcus Gilchrist. It remains a deep class at safety, but none of those players offer the same kind of upside as Joyner. There will be some notables on the trade market as well, but as of this writing, the Seahawks seem intent on keeping Earl Thomas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams To Tag Either Watkins Or Joyner

The Rams have two franchise tag candidates in wide receiver Sammy Watkins and safety Lamarcus Joyner. One of those players will receive the tag on Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, but they have yet to decide which one. 

[RELATED: Sammy Watkins, Franchise Tag Candidate]

By tagging one of the players, the Rams will guarantee that they will not lose both players to unrestricted free agency. However, if they cannot come to terms on a deal with either Watkins or Joyner before March 14, they’ll risk losing a key cog to the open market.

Late last month, it was reported that the Rams are leaning towards tagging Joyner over Watkins. Joyner would represent the cheaper tag as the projected cost for safeties is just over $11MM. Tagging Watkins would be more costly at a rate of about $16.23MM.

There’s more to the decision than just the Rams’ evaluation of each player and the cost. For all of Watkins’ drawbacks, including a dicey health history and a down year in 2017, he stands as one of the best potential free agents at his position. If the Rams do not tag him, they’ll be embroiled in a bidding war with other WR-needy teams and his price could quickly become too rich for their blood. Joyner, meanwhile, may profile as the best safety on the market, but there are other quality options near the top including Morgan Burnett, Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston, and Eric Reid.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Leaning Toward Tagging Joyner?

The Rams made a deal to add a snazzy new piece to their secondary on Friday by agreeing to trade for Marcus Peters, and while this figures to relocate Trumaine Johnson, the other key UFA in Los Angeles’ defensive backfield might not be going anywhere.

If it’s between Lamarcus Joyner or Sammy Watkins as to which player the Rams will use their franchise tag on, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports the team is leaning toward Joyner as of Friday.

The goal remains to reach a long-term agreement with one of the two UFAs in order to keep the other player via the tag, Garafolo notes. The looming Aaron Donald contract could complicate that strategy, but the Rams appear to be interested in retaining both Joyner and Watkins for 2018.

A tag for Joyner would be the cheaper course of action, with a safety tag expected to cost $11.08MM. A Watkins tag would be pricey, locking him down for $16.23MM. The Rams, though, invested more in Watkins by trading a second-round pick and E.J. Gaines. But the former Bills first-round pick struggled to assimilate in Los Angeles, although eight of his 39 catches ended in touchdowns.

Joyner was a 2014 second-rounder and hadn’t started more than eight games in a season until his contract year, when he started 12 and had a strong season. On a safety market flooded with talent, Joyner may be the top UFA if he reaches the market. With the Dolphins tagging Jarvis Landry and the Jaguars possibly set to tag Allen Robinson, Watkins would surely also fare well on the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Notes: Donald, Watkins, Johnson

The Rams’ offseason plans hinge greatly on getting an extension done with All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. However, team general manager Les Snead will not specify if he is the “first or last domino to fall,” ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez writes.

“What I do know is he is an important domino,” Snead said. It is likely Donald will become the highest-paid defender at some point this offseason, and the signing will dictate much of what the Rams can do with the rest of their salary cap.

Gonzalez also notes that a deal might have to wait until after Oakland resigns Khalil Mack for talks to begin to get serious. One of the frontrunners for 2017 Defensive Player of the Year, Donald is set to make $6.89MM in 2018, which is half of what Mack, who was taken eight spots higher than him in the 2014 NFL Draft, is expected to make.

Whenever Donald does ink a deal, there is no doubt he will be worth the pay raise. In his four seasons, the Pitt product has earned four Pro Bowl selections and has been named First Team All-Pro in each of the last three seasons. In 2017, Donald tied his career high with 11 sacks and furthered his reputation as the game’s top interior pass rusher.

Here is more from the Rams:

  • Gonzalez writes that using a franchise or transition tag on Sammy Watkins makes sense. Acquired by the Rams prior to the start of the 2017 campaign, Watkins provided a decent season eight touchdown grabs but only saw 67 targets. Another year in the high-powered offense will allow the fourth-year wideout to reach his potential after developing a better rapport with quarterback Jared Goff. The Rams traded a 2018 second-round pick and E.J. Gaines to the Bills for Watkins, and it would make sense they would want to see their investment for a full year in their system.
  • Snead can definitely see a scenario in which Trumaine Johnson returns to the team in 2018, Gonzalez reports. With Kayvon Webster out with an Achilles injury, it would make sense for the Rams to explore all options with the sixth-year cornerback. Gonzalez notes they would have to pay him like a top cornerback.
  • If Donald gets an extension, Watkins and Lamarcus Joyner are tagged, and Johnson is resigned, Gonzales thinks the team would look at parting with Robert Quinn or Mark Barron to make ends meet.