Louis Delmas didn't waste any time making an impact at the NFL level but, after two promising seasons to start his career, has been limited by injuries over the last two seasons. Delmas is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency March 12, and while young and talented, injury concerns could hurt his free agent prospects.
Delmas was limited to eight games last season due to a knee injury and was also forced to have groin surgery following the 2011 season. When healthy, Delmas is considered among the most talented safeties in the league, but remaining healthy has proven to be an issue. Delmas' high-impact style of play can be successful and fun to watch, but there is some thought it will continually lead to injuries, similar to former Colts safety Bob Sanders.
Still, there is no question Delmas has talent and at 25 years old is only entering the prime of his career. The Lions had a plethora of secondary issues last season and seemingly would want to keep one of their most talented defenders, but Detroit appears to be taking a wait-and-see approach. The Lions chose not to designate Delmas with the franchise or transition tags, instead letting him test free agency. Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew was noncommittal at the NFL Scouting Combine, leaving the situation open.
"Our doctors are still evaluating his situation," Mayhew said, according to ESPN. "We're still making those decisions as we speak."
If Delmas does not end up returning to Detroit, he could find a number of suitors on the open market. Several teams are in search of safety depth and, although Delmas comes with plenty of injury risk, his upside could be among the best of any available free agent safety.
The New England Patriots are thought to be in the market and it wouldn't be the first time Bill Belichick and New England have taken a player cast off from another team and turned him into a productive starter. The Washington Redskins have cycled through safeties in recent years as well and could be another potential suitor. Anthony Cosenza of Cincy Jungle made the case for why the Bengals could also be a fit for Delmas.
With his history, Delmas may not find the contract he is looking for on the open market. Entering his prime, he's likely in search of a big free agent deal while teams wary of his injury history may be shy to hand out large sums of guaranteed money. Instead, Delmas may end up signing a short-term "prove it" deal or a contract heavy on incentives.
During his career, Delmas has racked up 267 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 16 pass deflections and three interceptions while starting 49 games. He accumulated a minus-7.0 Pro Football Focus grade over the last two seasons after grading out at a combined plus-8.3 over his first two years in the NFL.
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