The Las Vegas Raiders fielded a less than stellar defense in 2019. Although they made many changes this past offseason, cornerback Lamarcus Joyner remains with the team. Heading into the season he may be the team’s weakest link.
The Raiders signed Joyner in the 2019 offseason with the intention of shadowing their opponent’s slot wide receivers. Throughout the season, he struggled in that role though. Although the organization plans to leave Joyner in the slot, they are currently “training him to play safety.” After all, he had the most success with the Rams patrolling the back end of the field.
A Liability on Defense?
Last year, Pro Football Focus (PFF) gave Joyner a 42.8 grade in coverage, which is not acceptable at all. That was after getting a 71.2 grade in 2018 and 91.3 in 2017. The drop might’ve been due to the fact he’s more comfortable as a safety.
Joyner’s performance was so poor that PFF named him the Raiders biggest weakness heading into the 2020 season. This is what the advanced statistics site had to say about the veteran:
Given the limited offseason, Lamarcus Joyner will probably retain his starting job in the slot, but that is not his best fit on the Raiders’ defense. Joyner enjoyed nothing but success when lined up at free safety with the Rams, and a move to the slot in 2019 came with a career-low 42.8 grade in coverage. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see someone else in that role at some point next season.
Even though Joyner could thrive as a safety, it won’t likely happen. One of the reasons Chris Harris passed on signing with the Raiders was the fact they told him Joyner will stay in the slot.
The Raiders had no choice but to keep Joyner this past offseason. The cap penalty for releasing him would’ve been $6 million. Nevertheless, things will be different next year. If the veteran doesn’t improve, they will be able to part ways with him with a reasonable cap hit of $2.5 million. Furthermore, rookie Amik Robertson is being groomed into Joyner’s role, so the room for error will be short.
Lamarcus Joyner failed to make an impact on the field in 2019 after thriving the previous two years. The 2020 season will show whether last season was an aberration or the start of a trend in Joyner’s career.
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