As expected, the Los Angeles Rams have elected to use the non-exclusive franchise tag on safety Lamarcus Joyner and not wide receiver Sammy Watkins. If the Rams cannot re-sign Watkins in the next week, he will become a free agent at the start of the new league year on March 14.

Using the franchise tag on a safety rather than a wide receiver will save Los Angeles some money. The cost of tagging a receiver is about $16 million as opposed to a safety's number of $11.3 million in 2018.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the Rams will make an effort to keep Watkins, as well. Watkins, along with Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson, could be among the top free agents available at the position. The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly targeting Robinson in free agency, but Watkins could be an interesting backup plan.


Watkins, who played college football at Clemson, was the fourth-overall draft pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2014. The Rams traded for Watkins just before the 2017 season, giving up cornerback E.J. Gaines and a 2018 second-round draft pick. In 2017, he caught 39 passes for 593 yards and eight touchdowns through 15 games and 14 starts.

Before joining the Rams, Watkins spent three seasons with Buffalo where he led Bills offense in receiving yards in 2014 and 2015. Watkins' only 1,000-yard season came during his best statistical year in 2015 when he had 60 catches for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns with Buffalo.

Also likely to become available is Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson. The word from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is the 49ers are the front-runners to acquire Johnson, according to a report from Draft Analyst.