Rams get it right using franchise tag on Joyner over Watkins

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

With the Los Angeles Rams placing the franchise tag on Lamarcus Joyner, Sammy Watkins becomes a free agent.

Over the last couple of weeks, one of the biggest questions surrounding the Los Angeles Rams was whether they would use the franchise tag on safety Lamarcus Joyner or wide receiver Sammy Watkins for the 2018 season. Obviously, the Rams would prefer the easy option of being able to bring back both players, and while that could still very well happen, it looks like the Rams decided to secure Joyner in the mean time.

With a few hours before the deadline, Ian Rapoport announced on Tuesday how Los Angeles would use the franchise tag on Joyner instead of Watkins, with the safety now scheduled to make $11.29 million. While last year marked Joyner’s fourth year with the Rams, it actually marked his first year at safety, and it turned out to be the best decision for both parties when looking at the impact he was able to make playing under Wade Phillips.

Now that Joyner has a year of experience under his belt, and will be receiving quite the pay raise, the question becomes whether he will be able to carry that success over to the 2018 season, which shouldn’t be a problem at all for the safety. Most players take a year or two to adjust under a new system, but seeing how much Joyner benefitted from Phillips makes it seem like the sky will be the limit for the safety moving forward.

As for what to expect with Watkins, Los Angeles has made it clear they would still love to bring the speedy wideout back, but as everybody knows, the NFL is a business, and there’s a good chance plenty of other teams will be offering more money than the Rams are willing to spend. The 39 catches by Watkins last year may not seem like anything to brag about, but also keep in mind that he hauled in eight touchdowns as well, and helped open up the way for some of his teammates to see additional passes thanks to extra attention from opposing defenders.

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No matter what happens with Watkins, at least the decision to keep Joyner around will keep the defensive unit strong, as it’s kind of amazing to see expectations high in Los Angeles for a change after the team won the NFC West title last season. At the end of the day, the decision to use the tag on Joyner over Watkins was the right move, and hopefully another solid season at safety will result in much heftier deal down the road.