The Detroit Lions were forced to release safety Louis Delmas due to cap concerns last week, and a market for his services is already taking shape. The 26 year old had 64 tackles, 3 interceptions and 2 sacks this season, and he ranks among the better safeties available in free agency this season. The New York Jets need to upgrade their free safety situation, and Delmas could be a solid fit.
Delmas isn’t a true free safety whose bread and butter is roaming centerfield and making plays on the ball. However, he has shown solid coverage ability with the Lions, and he does have six career interceptions. Delmas is a well balanced safety, and that could make him very appealing to the Jets. Rex Ryan likes his safeties to be hitters who can support the run defense and blitz, and Delmas is very strong in both those areas.
The Jets are not likely to prioritize the safety position this offseason unless the Buffalo Bills let Jairus Byrd hit free agency. I expect the Jets would happily hand Byrd a large contract because he is exactly what they need, but I don’t think they’d make a big investment in anyone else. The Jets are going to spend their money and high draft picks at other positions, so a possible addition of Delmas will depend on price as much as fit.
Delmas has had some injury issues, which could knock his price down a bit. However, he did play a complete season this year for the first time in his career. There is a good chance that Delmas and other second tier safeties will have to wait once free agency opens to let Byrd and T.J. Ward set the market, giving the Jets plenty of time to decide if they view him as the right fit. Personally, I think the Jets need to target a true coverage safety. However, given what Ryan likes and the fact that he could be a long term solution, pursuing Delmas makes a lot of sense for the Jets. He would not be a perfect fit, but he would certainly be a big upgrade at the free safety position.