The Rams decided to franchise tag Joyner at the beginning of the offseason. He signed his one-year, $11.28 million franchise tag in April, finalizing the Rams secondary for the upcoming season.
Joyner led Los Angeles in interceptions last season with three and was their most dynamic player in the secondary. He has the ability to play safety and come down to cover slot receivers. His importance to the defense is one of the reasons why the Rams decided to franchise tag Joyner and not Sammy Watkins.
In a Wade Phillips defense, he loves to play man-to-man and a player who can cover the opposing team’s inside receiver gives Phillips more flexibility. When Phillips was the defensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos in 2015-17, Chris Harris Jr’s ability to play the slot defender position at an elite level was a key reason Phillips was able to call exotic blitz schemes on the way to a Super Bowl 50 victory.
Even with multiple All-Pros on defense, Joyner remains the most important player. He excels in defending the slot position, but he may be even better at safety.
According to Pro Football Focus 2017, Joyner received 90.3 in their overall grades. He places in the elite level for safeties and ranks third on their list. The scariest part is Joyner may have an even better season than last year. He is playing for a contract now, and is surrounded with better talent on defense compared to last year. Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters shutting down outside receivers will allow Joyner to play more freely and be used as more of a playmaker.
In terms of his contract situation, Joyner says it is the least of his concerns. He is content with his current contract and just wants to go out and play football.
“[A new contract is] the least of me and my agent’s concerns,” Joyner said earlier this week after organized team activities to Rich Hammond from the Orange County Register. “For now, we know what [the contract] is. We have something already written in stone, and I’m just ready to go to work on the football field.”
The Rams have high expectations this season. Many people believe they are Super Bowl contenders and have a legitimate shot at winning it. If so, Joyner has the right mindset to help the Rams reach their goals.
“I’m not focused on wealth,” Joyner said. “I’m just focused on the passion I have for the game. That’s all.”