Friday, January 31, 2014
Lions position outlook: Safeties
By Michael Rothstein
A coach has been hired. A staff is being filled out. The Detroit Lions offseason and planning for the 2014 season is officially here.
To start that process, we will look at each position group over the next two weeks, analyze what worked and what didn’t before projecting what could happen between now and training camp, which is only seven or so months away.
Today the series continues with safeties.
Previous positions: Quarterbacks; running backs; wide receivers; tight ends; offensive tackles; interior linemen; defensive ends; defensive tackles; linebackers; cornerbacks.
2014 free agents: John Wendling; Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (exclusive rights)
The good: Glover Quin might have been the best free agent signing the club made in the offseason. He was a reliable, calming presence and rarely made mistakes. Plus, he’s a high-character guy who has been on a winner. His three interceptions tied a career-high, and his two sacks were a career high. After struggling initially, Don Carey proved to be a competent nickel back by the end of the season. Louis Delmas played in every game for the first time in his career and had a career-best three interceptions. He also, at least until the final games of the year, appeared to play much more in control.
The bad: Delmas would sometimes play out of control, and by the end of the season appeared to be out of position a lot against the run and pass. His helmet-to-helmet hit on teammate Bill Bentley knocked Bentley out of the game against the New York Giants. Detroit struggled against the big play and deep pass for a lot of the season, and the safeties are the last line of defense there.
The money (using 2014 cap numbers from Roster Management System): Delmas is the big moneymaker here. He has a cap number of $6,500,000 in the final year of his contract -- second to Ndamukong Suh on the defense, and fifth overall behind Suh, Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson. Quin is to count $4,550,000 against the cap, and DeJon Gomes is supposed to make $645,000. Carey, who signed an extension just before the offseason, has a cap number of $730,000.
What Caldwell might favor: Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin doesn’t seem to have a true height-weight profile for his safeties. In his three seasons in Baltimore, he had one starting safety at 5-foot-11 and another one 6-foot or taller. Of course, for two of those years, the 5-foot-11 safety was Ed Reed. Same goes with Caldwell in Indianapolis. There was no true height-weight mold for his safeties there.
Potential cuts: Delmas is one to watch here if he isn’t willing to restructure his deal. Yes, he played in all 16 games for the first time in his career and was healthy, but even at 26 years old, there has to be a question of how long his knees can hold up. Gomes could be cut depending on what Detroit decides to do with the other safeties out there, and there is no guarantee Owusu-Ansah is brought back.
Draft priority: Medium. A lot of this will depend on what the team does with Delmas. Keep him, and you’re drafting for depth at the position -- probably for a fourth safety since Carey played well enough. If you get rid of Delmas, you’re potentially looking for a starter, which means a higher draft priority.
Numbers in this post were culled from ESPN Stats & Information and Roster Management System.