Former Detroit Lions free safety Louis Delmas unquestionably has talent, but chronic knee injuries partially led to his release from the Lions yesterday. The main motivation for his release was his price tag, as the team saved $6 million by cutting him and avoided spending $500,000 on a roster bonus. It left them with a glaring hole at safety, but they were also more than happy to release veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson to save a much-needed $5.5 million in the process. That move also left the Lions even more thin at wide receiver, but it was all about cost.
Now on the free agent market, Delmas is fully expected to sign elsewhere, as a return to the Lions sounds like a last resort. He should receive interest from a significant number of teams, because his talent as a solid starting safety in this league outweighs his nasty injury history and knee condition. After all, he was able to slog through all 16 games this season, and he’s only played in less than ten games once (eight) in his five-year career.
According to ESPN NFL Nation’s Vaughn McClure, nobody should be surprised if the Atlanta Falcons decided to show interest in Delmas, as McClure writes that he will “likely” pique the interest of Thomas Dimitroff and the Falcons organization. William Moore is locked in as the team’s starting strong safety after signing a lucrative deal last year, but it’s becoming clear that Thomas DeCoud needs to be upgraded at free safety. He gives up far too many big plays, and he’s one of the most frustratingly inconsistent safeties in the NFL. Free safeties are supposed to be the most reliable players on the field, but DeCoud has been anything but that.
There are no guarantees that the Falcons will show interest in the 26-year-old out of Western Michigan, but I would be surprised if they didn’t at least look into the possibility. The Falcons have one of the league’s most stacked front offices after adding Scott Pioli to the mix (Billy Devaney could be next) this offseason, so we’ll see if any more smoke rises. Delmas recorded 64 tackles, nine passes defended, two sacks, and three interceptions last season, and he has leadership, playmaking ability, and fits as a good replacement for DeCoud. But maybe the most important thing is the fact that Delmas is a sure-handed tackler, whereas the Falcons current FS is one of the league’s worst offenders when it comes to missing tackles in the open field.