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Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Garafolo: Rams WR Sammy Watkins could hit free agency

Feb 22, 2018 at 5:17 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers may be looking to upgrade the wide receiver position in free agency to give franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo an added weapon on offense.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry got hit with the franchise tag. The Jacksonville Jaguars may do the same to wide receiver Allen Robinson. For some time, it seemed likely that Sammy Watkins of the Los Angeles Rams would receive the same treatment.

That may not be the case.

A report by Mike Garafolo of NFL Network states that the Rams may use the option on free safety Lamarcus Joyner instead.

"Based on conversations that I've had with those involved and around the situation, I'm getting the sense that the Rams are looking at Lamarcus Joyner, their safety, as a priority there," Garafolo said on the air. "He might be the one that winds up getting the tag."

Garafolo went on to say that the Rams would probably like to keep both players. The goal might be to sign one of the two before the franchise tag deadline on March 6 and then use the tag on the other player. Pro Football Talk projects that the cost to tag Watkins would be about $16.2 million while that number drops to $11.1 million for Joyner.

"If they can't do a deal with Joyner, I could see a situation where they tag Joyner, then Watkins hits the market," Garafolo added.

Watkins joined the Rams via a trade with the Buffalo Bills just before the start of the 2017 season. Los Angeles gave up cornerback E.J. Gaines and a 2018 second-round draft pick for the receiver.

In 2017, Watkins caught 39 passes for 593 yards and eight touchdowns through 15 games and 14 starts. The four-year veteran, who played college football at Clemson, was the 4th-overall draft pick by the Bills in 2014. Watkins' only 1,000-yard season came during his best statistical year in 2015 when he had 60 receptions for 1,047 yards with nine touchdowns in Buffalo.

Currently, the 49ers have Pierre Garçon, who spent the last half of the 2017 season on injured reserve due to a neck injury, and Marquise Goodwin slated as the starting receivers with Trent Taylor in the slot.

h/t to Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk for the find.

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