It’s not exactly a comforting sight to see one of last year’s biggest free-agent signings on a list like this at the end of the season. When the Raiders brought Lamarcus Joyner in a year ago, they were hoping to get a versatile defensive back who can cover slot receivers and play safety at a high level. Unfortunately, what the organization got this past year was a player who put together arguably the worst season of his career.
Comparing Joyner’s 2018 and 2019 seasons is a night and day difference. His completion percentage allowed went up by 15.1 percent, the amount of receiving yards he allowed nearly doubled – 279 to 541 – and his passer rating when targeted skyrocketed from 87.7 to 109.8. To top things off, he wasn’t very versatile as about 86 percent of his defensive snaps were exclusively at slot corner.
Granted, the coaching staff is partly to blame for pigeonholing him into one role on defense so that script can easily be flipped. However, that doesn’t excuse his poor play as a nickel corner. Also, with inexpensive safeties like Johnathan Abram and Erik Harris, and the possibility of bringing Karl Joseph back, does it really make sense to keep Joyner?
A verdict on the veteran’s status with the team will have to come rather quickly as $4.6 million of his salary becomes guaranteed on March 20th, per Over The Cap. Otherwise, the team would only save $2.45 million if he’s let go between that date and June 1st. A swift decision to let him go would open up $6.75 million in cap space.
The Raiders already extended cornerback Nevin Lawson and Gruden spoke about the potential of Isaiah Johnson and Keisean Nixon a couple of weeks ago, so Joyner’s seat could be warming up if it’s not already on fire.