ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — After making a couple of big splashes to improve their offense, the Oakland Raiders have now turned to upgrading their struggling defense.
The Raiders agreed to a four-year contract with versatile free-agent safety Lamarcus Joyner, a person familiar with the deal said Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the move can't be finalized until the new league year starts Wednesday.
The move to bring in Joyner comes after the Raiders agreed to a trade with Pittsburgh for prolific receiver Antonio Brown and agreed on the richest contract ever for an offensive lineman with a deal to add tackle Trent Brown.
Oakland will give Antonio Brown a new three-year contract worth $50.125 million and Trent Brown will get a deal worth $66 million over four years, according to a person familiar with those moves who spoke on condition of anonymity because they hadn't been announced. ESPN reported Joyner's deal will be worth about $42 million as the Raiders are spending liberally after going 4-12 in coach Jon Gruden's first season back on the sideline.
Joyner now will help upgrade a defense that ranked last in the league in yards allowed per play (6.27) and points allowed per game (29.2) last season.
Joyner played this past season on the franchise tag for the Rams, earning $11.3 million. But Los Angeles went in another direction, signing former Baltimore safety Eric Weddle last week to be Joyner's replacement.
The 28-year-old Joyner was originally a second-round pick by the Rams in 2014 and played 67 games over five seasons with the franchise. He has four interceptions and 25 passes defensed in his career.
The Raiders coveted Joyner for his versatility; he has experience playing cornerback, in the slot and safety. But he was at his best after moving exclusively to free safety the past two seasons under coordinator Wade Phillips.
Joyner will provide a needed boost to Oakland's secondary and will be expected to start alongside Karl Joseph with recently re-signed Erik Harris providing depth for coordinator Paul Guenther. Marcus Gilchrist and Reggie Nelson are free agents and are not expected to return.
Joyner and Joseph are small in stature, with Joyner listed at 5-foot-8 and Joseph just two inches taller. That could cause problems matching up against bigger tight ends like Kansas City's Travis Kelce.
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