Rams tag S Joyner; WR Watkins to become FA

The Los Angeles Rams placed their non-exclusive franchise tag on safety Lamarcus Joyner on Tuesday, which is currently worth $11.29 million for the 2018 season.

Joyner, 27, is entering his fifth NFL season, all with the Rams, after being drafted No. 41 overall in the second round in 2014. He has totaled 227 tackles, 4.0 sacks, three interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles over 52 games (27 starts).

Last season, Joyner moved to safety under new coordinator Wade Phillips and started all 12 of his games played in, recording 49 tackles with three picks and a forced fumble. The teams have until July 16 to work on a multi-year agreement.

Joyner is valued for his position versatility after having spent his first three seasons as the slot corner, where he still saw snaps last year. With the team agreeing to acquire Marcus Peters from Kansas City, cornerback Trumaine Johnson is not expected to be re-signed by the Rams in free agency.

With the decision to tag Joyner, wide receiver Sammy Watkins will become a true free agent. The team had been expected to prioritize Joyner over Watkins, who was acquired in a trade with Buffalo last August in exchange for cornerback E.J. Gaines and a second-round draft pick.

Watkins, 24, had 39 catches for 593 yards and eight touchdowns in his first season with the Rams. The former No. 4 overall pick in 2014 played his first three seasons with the Bills and has totaled 3,052 receiving yards and 25 TDs in 52 career games.

The Rams are expected to make a strong effort to re-sign Watkins, who will become a free agent March 14. Several teams are expected to compete for his services as well.

Los Angeles went 11-5 last season to win the NFC West before losing to defending NFC champion Atlanta in the wild-card round.

–Field Level Media

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