The Raiders have a young secondary, with three of the four starting spots locked up by players with three years experience or less.
They needed veteran leadership in the back, without sacrificing effectiveness. They locked that player down Monday evening, a league source said, by agreeing on terms of a four-year contract with free safety Lamarcus Joyner. He has versatility the Raiders prefer, with quality play at safety and slot cornerback.
On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the contract is for four years and $42 million. But the agreement won't become official and a contract won't be signed before Wednesday afternoon, when the NFL league year begins.
The 28-year old former L.A. Ram has been a high-level player since moving from slot cornerback to free safety in 2017, starting an excellent two-year run in the starting lineup.
He had 78 tackles, an interception, a sack and three passed defensed in 2018, and 49 tackles, three picks and nine pass breakups the year before that.
Joyner should be paired with 2016 first-round pick Karl Joseph at safety, flanked by cornerbacks Gareon Conley and Daryl Worley. Worley is a restricted free agent, but received a second-round contract tender and is fully expected back in silver and black. Erik Harris will also be in the mix at safety. Nick Nelson was drafted to play slot cornerback, but the Raiders could look to add another corner in free agency or the draft.
Joyner has graded out well as a run defender and a cover man – quarterback have just a 73.1 passer rating when targeting him, per Pro Football Focus -- showing versatility the Raiders prefer. Joseph is more of a box safety and occasional pass rusher but can play deep to mix things up.
Joyner played out his rookie contract with the Rams and was played on the franchise tag in 2018, which paid out $11.287 million. That made him a tough re-sign despite a solid year with the Rams, and they chose to go in a different, cheaper direction by signing Eric Weddle.
He'll remain in California one more year, before moving to Las Vegas with the Raiders in 2020. He fits the Raiders' desire to sign players in or entering their prime, a change after inking so many 30-plus free agents last season.
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Free safety was a major need and free agency was the expected place to fill it, given the depth and quality of this free-agent class. Joyner's four-year deal also means the Raiders don't have to push it and take a safety high in the NFL draft over a better available player.