INDIANAPOLIS — Los Angeles has a number of upcoming free agents in their secondary, including safety Lamarcus Joyner.
Selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Joyner spent his first three years with the Rams as a slot corner, essentially becoming a starter when the Rams used more of a nickel-based defense in 2016.
But in 2017, Joyner moved back in the secondary as Los Angeles' starting free safety under coordinator Wade Phillips. And the switch proved successful, with Joyner recording a career high three interceptions — one of which he returned for a touchdown — as well as seven pass breakups, and a forced fumble.
Joyner accomplished the career year despite missing three games early on in the season with a hamstring injury.
For those reasons and more, head coach Sean McVay plainly stated that L.A. would like to have Joyner back in 2018.
Check out photos of Los Angeles Rams players at the NFL Combine through the years. (Credit: Associated Press)
"It's a huge priority for us," McVay said on Wednesday morning. "I think you look at what Lamarcus was able to do just moving from being kind of exclusively a nickel over the last couple of years, transitioning to playing the post safety, obviously he can come down in the box and cover. I think some of the things he can do in Wade's system makes him a huge priority."
And aside from Joyner's play, his off-the-field demeanor is a significant part of why McVay would like to keep the young safety.
"He's a great person as well," McVay said. "He kind of represents a lot of the things that are right about your locker room and kind of what you want guys to embody from a football character standpoint, the way they attack every single day. And Lamarcus is somebody that's very important and we'd like to get him re-signed for sure."
Another member of the secondary McVay mentioned Los Angeles would like to retain is cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. After signing a one-year contract as a free agent, Robey-Coleman had a strong year mainly playin the slot for the Rams. He finished the year having played 15 games — starting four — with a pair of interceptions, two tackles for loss, nine pass breakups, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
McVay complimented Robey-Coleman's versatility, as he played in the slot, outside at times, and even some at safety.
"And you talk about a tough competitor — that he brings an energy kind of similar to Lamarcus where that rubs off on the guys he's playing around," McVay said. "Definitely want to continue to see him in our building if we can work that out as well."