Meet new Raiders safety Lamarcus Joyner who was a franchise player for the Rams and has spent the last five seasons in Los Angeles and St. Louis.
Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock have been busy.
The Raiders duo has been hard at work rebuilding the offense, adding superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown, tackle Trent Brown, and wide receiver Tyrell Williams to the mix, but they haven't forgotten about the defense.
2018 wasn't kind to the Raiders defense. It surrendered 381.4 yards per game – 240.8 yards through the air and 140.6 on the ground – but with three first-round picks, the team can address its defensive needs in the Draft. In addition to the Raiders' draft capital, Gruden and Mayock went out and signed former Los Angeles Rams franchise safety Lamarcus Joyner. This is a great addition to the Raiders secondary, considering one of Joyner's best attributes is his speed, which means he'll provide much-needed assistance against the deep pass. The Raiders secondary allowed 15 passes of 40 yards or more in 2018, which led the league in the category.
Prying Joyner away from the Super Bowl-runner-up Rams will greatly benefit a Raiders secondary with a lot of youth. After signing his contract on Thursday, Joyner spoke with the media via conference call about what led him to sign with the Silver and Black.
"My initial thoughts were to get back to the East Coast, get back closer to home after being on the West Coast for three years," he said. "In my mind, I thought nothing was going to change that until I heard [Head] Coach [Jon] Gruden called and I kind of did a whole 180. After getting to talk to him and some of the guys in the building, I was very excited about the way they were going to use me and how people were happy to have me here. That was the biggest decision-making point for me."
In Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther's system, he'll be used frequently as a free safety and in the nickel back position. A lot is asked of the nickel; while they have to cover, they also need to step up and set the edge in the run game. Don't let Joyner's 5-foot-8, 191-pound frame fool you, the man is a proven tackler and he isn't afraid to clash helmets with the best of them. During his call with the media, he shared why he's so comfortable at the nickel position.
"I love the nickel back position," Joyner explained. "It's a natural, instinctual position for me. I get to do a lot of things. I'm great at tackling. I'm great at beating guys to the point. I'm great at covering. There's a lot the nickel has tied up into its identity as a role that fits me, so I'm very excited."
Super Bowl LIII wasn't a barn burner, but an equally as impressive defensive tug of war between the New England Patriots and Joyner's former Los Angeles Rams squad. The Rams had a lot going for them last year, and even though they ultimately fell on the biggest stage in football, there's reason to believe they can make a run at the Super Bowl again, which makes someone wonder why Joyner would leave such a promising situation.
It's been a rough go as of late for the Raiders, but things are looking up, and Joyner is excited to help his new teammates bring the team back to its winning ways.
"I love embracing that challenge," he said. "Sorry to go back so far, but even in college, when you look at the Oakland Raiders they were at one point a prominent and prestigious organization and they won a lot of games. Florida State did as well, but when I entered both organizations, they weren't doing too well. Even my years with the Rams, we started off slow, but they got the right guys in. I feel like I'm one of the first stepping stones, one of those first milestones for Coach Gruden to bring the right guys in and change this place around."
The coaching staff is ecstatic to have Joyner in the mix and his contributions in 2019 should go a long way.