Now is the time of year some veteran NFL players are released from their contracts because teams feel they are either too expensive to justify their production and/or the team cannot afford to keep them. These players end being what's called a salary cap casualty. The Detroit Lions made some cuts today that fall in line with this theme. Veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson and safety Louis Delmas were released in order to save $11.5 million in cap space. They are now free to sign with any team.
The latter of those names could be of interest to the Eagles. It's no secret that Philadelphia needs safety help this off-season. When the new league year starts on March 11, the Eagles will only have three safeties under contract: Patrick Chung, Earl Wolff, and Keelan Johnson. None of these options are particularly inspiring. Chung is expected to be released at some point. Wolff showed some potential as a rookie but he won't just be handed a starting job. Johnson spent the majority of the year on the team's practice squad.
Delmas, who will turn 27 in April, is coming off his fifth NFL season. BGN profiled Delmas as an Eagles target last offseason when he was a free agent. In 65 games played, he's recorded a career 245 tackles (94 assisted), 6 interceptions (3 in 2013), 25 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 fumble recoveries. A concern with Delmas is his injury history, which has caused him to miss 14 games. Last year was the first time he played a complete season. Clearly, the Lions want to move onto a safety who is more affordable and reliable.
One thing to consider: Delmas has spent his entire NFL career playing the wide-nine defensive line alignment. The Eagles also employed this alignment for a few years, and the results for the secondary weren't great. Eagles safety Nate Allen, who's scheduled to be a free agent this year, seemed to benefit from moving away from that alignment this year as the Eagles switched to a 2-gap 3-4 defense. Eagles DC Billy Davis admitted Allen's responsibilities were easier than they had been before:
"The biggest difference in the scheme change for Nate was, in the wide-nine, the low safety had an inside run gap. He struggled," Davis said. "We do not give that responsibility to our safeties. With our scheme, he can play back."
So... perhaps it's possible Delmas could also see improvement when no longer playing behind that much-maligned defensive alignment. Or maybe this is a stretch. Either way, it's something to think about.
It remains to be seen what kind of deal Delmas could be had for. If the Eagles could sign Delmas to a non-guaranteed deal like they did with former Giants safety Kenny Phillips last year, it could be a low-risk move that pays off. If not, the Eagles will have to invest some type of resources in Delmas and it's unclear if that would be a wise move. The Eagles could easily pass on Delmas and opt to sign a differnet player in free agency and/or add one through the 2014 NFL draft.
What say you?