Though it was likely a tough choice considering the depletion of depth at a spot, it was the right decision. Despite his age, Delmas was far too injury prone to be counted on consistently. His knees are creaky, he goes for the big hit far too often and doesn't ball-hawk nearly enough.
Combined with his salary, the recipe for a pre-free agency release was in order. Though Delmas likely could have played and filled in for another season, the Lions needed to try and become elite at the position. That wasn't happening with Delmas in the fold. Glover Quin is a responsible enough veteran to play steady no matter who's next to him.
Still, Detroit's starter as of today in Delmas's vacated spot would be a backup with backup credentials in Don Carey. Obviously, Delmas himself would be a better option than Carey, so count on Detroit to add someone significant, whether it be in free agency or the draft. They've tried washed up veterans like Erik Coleman as temporary band-aids, which shouldn't be good enough anymore.
Mostly, the Lions need to find and develop a healthy quality starter along with some quality depth. Teams that have the most success have a good ability to find interchangeable parts in case injury tragedy strikes. The last three Super Bowl champions have figured out a way to solidify their safety position in the draft, and that's helped their defensive backfield develop an identity.
The New York Giants had Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips, while the Baltimore Ravens had Ed Reed and James Ihedigbo, replacing Reed with Matt Elam. Most impressively, the Seattle Seahawks got huge performances from Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Clearly, the backbone of every defensive backfield starts most at safety, as proven by three elite defenses who've gotten big contributions from the position recently.
Does that make Ha Ha Clinton-Dix a priority with the tenth overall selection this spring? Perhaps. Might it make Jairus Byrd a decent priority on the free agent market? Maybe. Either way, the Lions need to put a serious duo in the defensive backfield along with depth so that the unit can start to perform at top level.
The release of Delmas this offseason should not be viewed as the end, but instead, the beginning. Now, the Lions have the chance to find a dependable, elite play maker to pair with a steady veteran at a vital defensive position.
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