On Louis Delmas' return to the Lions

A few thoughts on safety Louis Delmas' return to the Detroit Lions on a two-year contract:

  • Pairing: On paper, Delmas and newcomer Glover Quin give the Lions their best safety duo in recent memory. Quin has good coverage skills for a safety, having once played cornerback, and has missed only one game in his NFL career. Delmas is frenetic and fearless against the run, and other players feed off his energy. He isn't necessarily a turnover machine, but his playing style helps create opportunities. In 2011, for example, the Lions averaged 2.3 takeaways in games he played through the end and 1.8 in games he missed or left early.

  • Health: The previous assessment is based on Delmas remaining healthy, something he couldn't do over the past two seasons; he missed 13 of a possible 33 games, including playoffs. The Lions were still evaluating the condition of his knees as of last month, and he returned to Detroit last week for another checkup. The Lions probably weren't willing to make the kind of financial investment that his skills and impact otherwise would have commanded, but after making two free-agent visits, to the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers, Delmas likely learned he wouldn't be valued higher elsewhere.

  • Depth: With Delmas and Quin starting, the Lions have two players on their roster as backups with plenty of starting experience. Amari Spievey re-signed this week, having apparently been cleared after his most recent concussion, and Don Carey is also on the roster. Given Delmas' injury history, it makes sense to have at least one backup with starting experience.

  • State of defense: The Lions entered the offseason with much of their defense eligible for free agency. They have re-signed five of those players: Delmas, Spievey, defensive end Willie Young, cornerback Chris Houston and linebacker DeAndre Levy. Newcomers include Quin and defensive lineman Jason Jones. The Lions have made most of their difficult choices in the first week or so of free agency.

  • What's next: The Lions must figure out their starting defensive ends after bidding farewell to Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch. Jones could be a factor there, as could Young. Lawrence Jackson remains a free agent. If the Lions aren't going to re-sign Justin Durant, they'll need a starter at his strongside position as well.