If the NFL had to pick one franchise to represent the essence of the underdog it would be the New York Jets.
That same philosophy is something Lamarcus Joyner has embraced throughout his seven-year NFL career to date.
The 5-foot-8 (on a slanted hill), 185 pound defensive back has constantly been overlooked.
During his four-year run at Florida State, Joyner’s best trait was his ability to make plays:
- Eight interceptions
- 6.5 sacks
- 10 pass deflections
- Registered over 197 total tackles
On top of his proven production on the field, Joyner is a leader of men that oozes confidence that is infectious to the rest of his teammates.
Detailing His NFL Career Thus Far
Despite questions about his size, Joyner was the first safety taken off the board during the 2014 NFL draft. He was taken No. 41 overall in the second round by the then St. Louis Rams.
The former Florida State product would spend the next five years of his career with the Rams (first two in St. Louis then the final three in Los Angeles). That run completed his rookie contract and he played an additional year on the franchise tag.
Joyner excelled as a safety with the Rams creating the same big plays he did in college: four interceptions, 25 pass deflections, five sacks, and over 300 combined tackles.
After a remarkable five-year run with the Rams including a trip to the Super Bowl, they had to part ways after 2018. It was described to me as a “purely financially driven decision” from the LA point of view.
That’s because the then Oakland Raiders, now Las Vegas, handed him a juicy four-year deal worth more than $42M.
You would think if the Silver and Black doled out that much money they would know how to properly implement Joyner on their defense? Apparently not.
After succeeding at safety for over five years in the pros, the Raiders called an audible on their newest addition and made him a slot corner. The results were putrid.
Over the next two years, Joyner wouldn’t register a single interception and was terrible in pass coverage. During that span, he finished with a 47.5 PFF grade (that ranked 86th among qualified corners).
To get an even better scope of how he played with the Rams as a safety vs how he played with the Raiders (as a slot corner or in the box), here’s a jarring stat via Jets X-Factor:
“While Joyner has an outstanding career PFF grade of 91.0 on plays in which he lined up at free safety, he has overall grades of 61.3 (mediocre) as a slot corner and 51.0 (bad) when lined up in the box.”
Joyner Ready for a Career Renaissance
After a tumultuous two years with the Raiders, they released him during free agency. Two weeks later the New York Jets quickly scooped him up on an absolute bargain.
A few years ago Joyner had a $42M contract, then Las Vegas played him out of position and ruined his sterling reputation. Gang Green became the beneficiary of recency bias by adding the veteran defensive back on a one-year deal for a paltry $1.5M.
Since joining the green and white back in March, Joyner has continued to impress. Rich Cimini of ESPN recently called him a “sneaky good signing.”
“Joyner played nickel for the Raiders but we really envision him as a safety for us,” Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich on Flight 2021. “We’re going to challenge our safeties to play man-to-man on wide receivers at times. His experiences with the Raiders in the nickel and with the Rams as a true safety made him a perfect prospect for us. Little in stature but plays huge.”