Lions to sign ex-Patriots safety Tavon Wilson

There was always a chance general manager Bob Quinn was going to bring in players he was familiar with to the Detroit Lions.

On the first day of free agency, that’s exactly what happened.

Safety Tavon Wilson announced on Twitter he was headed to Detroit to play for the Lions, one of Quinn’s first signings in free agency. This was later confirmed by ESPN.com through a league source.

The Lions likely need to still find a starter at safety, though, as Wilson seems to be more of a depth signing. The Lions needed to bring in multiple strong safeties since Isa Abdul-Quddus has reportedly signed with Miami and James Ihedigbo is a free agent. Wilson played only nine games last season, making 10 tackles.

His snaps were never as high as during his rookie season, when he had 36 tackles and two fumble recoveries in 444 snaps. He hasn’t played more than 200 defensive snaps in a season since, working more on special teams. He has 14 special teams tackles in his career.

He has the size the Lions would like in the defensive backfield, though, at 6-feet, 215 pounds, and should be able to slide in as the team’s third or fourth safety. If Detroit is counting on him to be a starter, though, that could be an issue.

He’ll have competition for a backup safety spot from Don Carey and Isaiah Johnson.

Here’s some more background on Wilson from our Patriots reporter, Mike Reiss:

"Wilson was a 2012 second-round draft choice out of Illinois. When the Patriots made the pick, it was hotly debated in New England because many draft analysts had Wlson rated much lower. Bill Belichick defended the selection, which ultimately didn’t unfold the way either side hoped, with Wilson essentially reaching his ceiling with the team as a special teamer/dime linebacker. He had started four games as a rookie, had a few struggles with the deep ball, and never really emerged consistently on defense again. When he played on defense, it was usually in a specific sub package. When the Patriots selected Stanford safety Jordan Richards in the second round in 2015, it pushed Wilson further down the depth chart behind starters Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon and Richards."