I wrote a piece last week that highlighted why the Miami Dolphins shouldn’t sign free agent safety Louis Delmas. My main reasoning wasn’t that Delmas couldn’t play but that his degenerative knee condition was too big of a red flag to invest long term.
Well, GM Dennis Hickey avoided committing long term to Delmas but still nabbed the safety he’s coveted since last month. The Dolphins agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal with Delmas on Monday evening, securing a solid replacement for Chris Clemons, who provided reliable coverage in center field but rarely produced game-changing plays.
If Delmas can stay healthy, like he was able to do in 2013 with the Detroit Lions, he has the potential to make Miami’s secondary more dynamic. He’s known as a bit of risk-taker in coverage, meaning he might not be quite as dependable as Clemons was over the top, but Delmas is more physical and more interchangeable with strong safety Reshad Jones.
“I’ve always been a free safety,” Delmas told the South Florida in a teleconference. “Deep down in my heart, though, I’m a strong safety. I love to make plays.”
The biggest knock on Clemons was his inability to make plays. He was seemingly allergic to the football at times and only intercepted four passes in five seasons. Delmas shouldn’t be misconstrued as a ball hawk by any means, but he picked off a career-high three passes in 2013.
Perhaps more importantly, Delmas brings vocal leadership to the table, something Clemons wasn’t known to provide. In Detroit, Delmas was referred to as the defense’s emotional leader. The Dolphins lacked leadership in 2013 after former GM Jeff Ireland parted ways with Jake Long, Reggie Bush and Karlos Dansby. Inconsistent play on the field and a national controversy off of it echoed the sentiment that Miami was in need of more influential voices in the locker room.
The following tweet illustrates what Delmas will be bringing to the Dolphins on Sundays this fall and every day at practice:
The pros to the signing are plentiful, but unfortunately, the one big con attached to Delmas’ stock is concerning to say the least. With the Lions, Delmas was limited to one practice a week this past season and was forced to install a $25,000 hyperbolic chamber in his home to help with treatment. His knee condition isn’t improving any time soon, and it was the biggest reason why I believed signing him to a multiyear deal would have been a mistake.
Inking Delmas to a low-risk, one-year contract isn’t a mistake, though; it’s a win for Hickey. Of course, Delmas’ health is still a concern in 2014, as the Dolphins will need a quality starting safety alongside Jones for the duration of the year. But committing to him for only 16 games ensures that Delmas will remain hungry to perform at a high level for the entire season.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been hurt a couple times, that’s football,” Delmas said. “(The) Dolphins have given me a one-year deal to prove I’m capable.”
The last time Miami signed a capable defensive back with durability concerns to a one-year, incentive-laced deal, it worked out pretty well. I’m referring to the signing of cornerback Brent Grimes, of course, who dominated in 2013 on a one-year contract. If Delmas can fare half as well in 2014, the Dolphins should get more out of the free safety position than they ever did with Clemons.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.