Dolphins Sign Louis Delmas, Grading the Move and What It Means for Miami

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Dolphins Sign Louis Delmas, Grading the Move and What It Means for Miami
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

So much for the Jairus Byrd sweepstakes.

According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the Miami Dolphins are interested acquiring the Buffalo Bills' free-agent Pro Bowl safety, but they have gone in a different direction. According to Adam H. Beasley of The Miami Herald, the Dolphins have signed former Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas.

The $3.5 million cap hit makes Delmas the 22nd-highest paid safety in the NFL. 

The five-year veteran was released by the Lions on February 13, making him free to sign with any team ahead of the beginning of the new league year (Tuesday, March 11 at 4 p.m. ET). He has been visiting with teams, and the Dolphins have been reported to be interested in him for a while.

With the signing, the Dolphins have now solidified the back end of their secondary for the 2014 season. Safety Reshad Jones signed a four-year, $29.36 million contract in the 2013 offseason to stay with the Dolphins. 

With the signing of Delmas, the Dolphins are also likely to move on from five-year veteran safety Chris Clemons, who is set to become a free agent this offseason. The Dolphins drafted Clemons in the fifth round, and he has been the Dolphins' starting free safety for the past two seasons. Delmas should be considered an upgrade over Clemons.

"Delmas brings the energy for that defense," said an NFC scout, according to Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune. "He's one of the guys who is harder to find because he's physical in the run game and he has range on the back end. He's a little overaggressive at times but he brings a lot of fire."

He showed his ball skills with nine passes defensed and three interceptions, but he also made plays against the run with 45 solo tackles and 19 assists, adding two sacks of the quarterback.

His skill set makes him something of a tweener at safety. He's not quite fast enough to hold up on his own in Cover 1, but he's not strictly an "in-the-box" safety, either. He and Jones both possess a blend of skills that makes them somewhat interchangeable on the back end. That's important; Offenses can dictate whether a safety is "free" or "strong" based on alignment, route combinations etc. 

Delmas has talent, but comes with some red flags. He battled injury problems throughout his career, missing 13 games over the past three years. Specifically, he has a degenerative knee condition that will affect him for the rest of his career. He was healthy in 2013, though, and played 98.8 percent of the defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus' subscriber section.

Grade the move:

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On a one-year deal, the Dolphins will get to see whether Delmas can stay healthy and possibly re-sign him at the end of the season if he does well, or let him sign with another team if not. Delmas is only 26 years old, so he could still have some good football left in him despite his injury problems. 

The Dolphins made some smart choices on one-year deals last year with cornerback Brent Grimes and offensive tackle Tyson Clabo, and they're hoping to have a similar return on a short-term investment with Delmas.

Grade: B+

 

Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or via team news releases.

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