The NFL's 2014 free agency extravaganza has effectively descended upon New Orleans less than a week before Mardi Gras. On Thursday, the Saints hosted former Detroit Lions Free Safety Louis Delmas on a visit as the team looks to bring in a new face to its secondary. Poised to lose unrestricted free agent Malcolm Jenkins in addition to having already moved on from Roman Harper, Delmas could be the kind of value option New Orleans looks to as they try to balance their roster while working on a stringent budget.
Delmas, who has played all five of his professional seasons in Detroit, was released on February 13, a move which saved the Lions nearly $6 million in cap space. Delmas appeared in every game for Detroit in 2013, recording 39 solo tackles, 3 interceptions and a pair of sacks. Delmas was a productive player for the Lions when healthy, but chronic knee issues forced him to miss a total of 13 regular season games between 2011 and 2012. Nevertheless, he will likely see no shortage of suitors as he guages his market value over the coming days.
Former Lions Safety Louis Delmas
Known for his toughness, aggression, commitment to helping in run support and solid coverage skills, Delmas was a 2nd round pick out of Western Michigan in 2009 and made an instant impact in Detroit, scoring on a 65 yard fumble return for a touchdown against the Saints. He appeared in 30 games his first two seasons as a pro before the onslaught of chronic knee issues began to trouble him.
In spite of the injury troubles, Delmas was rewarded with a 2 year extension last spring. But with the Lions, like many teams including the Saints, trying to manage their cap situation, Delmas became an early casualty as the team looked to create extra wiggle room in their financial coffers. With many teams expressing interest in his services last March, Delmas will likely find just as much if not more interest this go around as teams pursue experienced talent.
Enter the Saints. Like Detroit, New Orleans has had to make moves of their own to get under the cap. With Jimmy Graham's future the top priority, any kind of value the Saints can find in the free agent market, especially in terms of adding to their secondary, is a bonus. Delmas likely won't command the kind of money he was scheduled to earn in Detroit due to his knee troubles, but should still land a respectable deal on the market. In addition to the Saints, Delmas has also visitied Miami and Pittsburgh, with several other teams believed to have interest.
Should New Orleans land him, Delmas will have an opportunity to start and play major snaps. The team would love to re-sign Jenkins, although it appears unlikely as he seeks a higher salary than the team would be willing and able to pay. Rafael Bush is a restricted free agent who should be back and could rotate with Delmas to help conserve his legs. Add Kenny Vaccaro to the mix, and that is a solid 3 man rotation in the defensive backfield.
As the Saints look to resolve the Jimmy Graham situation, any signings the team makes outside of the players it hopes to retain will likely be low risk/high reward value type acquisitions. Delmas fits the bill, and should he make his way to New Orleans, one might venture to say the Saints will 'parade' a more than capable secondary onto the field in 2014.