Hearing Jon Gruden compare former Los Angeles Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner to Ronde Barber is a bit extreme.
Despite using the franchise tag on Lamarcus Joyner last offseason, the Los Angeles Rams seemed set on moving on from the safety in free agency, which was exactly the case after he ended up signing with the Oakland Raiders.
With all due respect to Joyner, some Rams fans were frustrated with the safety towards the end of the 2018 season since his production didn’t seem to match the hefty money he was making under the franchise tag.
A few years ago, the decision by Los Angles to move Joyner from cornerback to safety worked wonders on the defensive side of the football. But with the Rams recently signing Eric Weddle while Joyner earned a hefty four-year, $42 million deal from the Raiders, both parties seemed to benefit for the best this offseason.
From the perspective of Oakland, the team has every reason in the world to be thrilled over the addition of Joyner, as the new contract will hopefully provide some extra motivation to elevate his game to a whole new level starting in 2019.
Here’s what Gruden had to say about his new defender in Joyner, courtesy of NBC Sports:
"“When I was in Tampa, I coached a guy named Ronde Barber,” Gruden said. “He may have been, perhaps, my favorite player I ever coached. He wasn’t the biggest guy and he wasn’t the fastest guy, but when he put the helmet on, something happened to him.“Joyner is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to Ronde as a slot corner. I think he’s the best. I think he has a chance to be dynamic in there.”"
First off, Joyner should be thrilled over Gruden even considering the thought of putting him in the same category as Barber because that’s one of the best honors he could ask for as a defensive player.
Unfortunately, Joyner is nowhere near the same level of playing as Barber was during his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that consisted of a Super Bowl title along with five trips to the Pro Bowl.
Maybe in good time, Joyner will find a way to play well enough to draw consideration for being near the same level of Barber.
For now, Joyner has a lot of work to do heading into his first year with the Raiders, especially if Gruden is going to view a player with no Pro Bowl appearances to being on the same level as Barber from his days with the Buccaneers.