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Rams place franchsise tag on safety Lamarcus Joyner

We knew it was down to Joyner and Sammy Watkins, and they’re going with the defense.

The Los Angeles Rams have placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on safety Lamarcus Joyner, the team announced in advance of the deadline to designate such a player on Tuesday. Joyner is an excellent safety, but probably wasn’t on the 49ers’ radar given they already have too many good safeties and will need to figure out how to play them all next season.

But this does mean that wide receiver Sammy Watkins is likely to hit the open market as a free agent. The Rams can still negotiate with Watkins on a contract extension, including a long-term deal, but with the free agency legal tampering period beginning on March 12 and the start of the new league year on March 14, Watkins seems destined to be available.

Most would prefer Allen Robinson for the 49ers, or at least that’s how I tend to read the room. The Jacksonville Jaguars announced that they were not placing the franchise tag on Robinson, and reports have suggested that the team is more interested in keeping Marqise Lee around. Still, a long-term deal could happen, same as Watkins.

This wide receiver class is shaping up to be much better than expected. Watkins, Robinson, Lee, Paul Richardson, Dann Amendola, Donte Moncrief and Jordan Matthews are just some of the names set to be available.