Detroit Lions Sign Former Atlanta Falcons Safety Erik Coleman

Michael Schottey@SchotteyNFL National Lead WriterFebruary 18, 2011

FLOWERY BRANCH, GA - JULY 30:  Erik Coleman #26 of the Atlanta Falcons runs drills during opening day of training camp on July 30, 2010 at the Falcons Training Complex in Flowery Branch, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions have announced the signing of safety Erik Coleman, released earlier this month by the Atlanta Falcons.

Coleman, who signed a one-year deal, will turn 29 in May and will be on his third NFL team. He was drafted by the New York Jets in the fifth round of the 2004 NFL draft.

The signing of Coleman is the beginning of an offseason-long effort to improve the talent level and the stability of the Lions' defensive backfield. In league circles Coleman is considered a markedly better talent than some of the veteran safety signings of the Lions in recent years.

Since 2004, players like Terrence Holt, Bracy Walker, Kenoy Kennedy, C.C. Brown and Marvin White have played significant roles in the Lions' safety position. Recently, Amari Spievey was converted from cornerback to pair with burgeoning young star Louis Delmas.

It is unclear now if Spievey will hold on to his starting position. The third-round pick out of Iowa was wildly inconsistent but played well as the season went down and was an unheralded part of the Lions' four-game winning streak to end 2010.

Coleman will provide the young Lions backfield a measure of both competition and veteran leadership.

The 5'10", 207-pound safety started 32 combined games in 2008 and 2009 for the Falcons but lost his starting position to second-year player William Moore.


In Other News

The Lions also announced that they have been found guilty of tampering charges stemming from comments defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham made about players on the Kansas City roster. It is believed those comments were aimed at Jarrad Page, who is now with the New England Patriots.

The Lions forfeit a seventh-round pick (acquired from Denver in the Alphonso Smith-Dan Gronkowski trade) and must swap fifth-round picks with Kansas City.


Michael Schottey is an on-call editor for the Bleacher Report College Writing Internship. He is also an NFL Featured Columnist and an NFL Draft Expert. A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, he has professionally covered the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions, as well as NFL events like the Scouting Combine and the Senior Bowl. Follow him on Twitter.