The Miami Dolphins are in the market for a new starting free safety, and the team began its shopping early this offseason, hosting former Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas on a visit Friday.
Delmas, a South Florida native, was released by the Lions earlier this offseason in a cost-cutting measure. Because Delmas was released before the March 11 start of free agency he's allowed to sign with any team at any time.
Delmas, who contributed 64 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions last season, visited the New Orleans Saints on Thursday. The Dolphins were the second team he's discussed signing with.
Delmas started 64 games for the Lions, contributing 331 tackles, two forced fumbles, six interceptions and one safety in his five-year NFL seasons.
The 2009 second-round pick, who is a product of North Miami Beach High, was rated by ProFootballFocus.com as the 26th best safety in the NFL last season based on all the safeties who played at least 25 percent of their team's snaps.
Opposing quarterbacks had a 79.8 passer rating when throwing into Delmas' area last season, and completed 43.8 percent of passes when throwing to players Delmas was covering.
Delmas has consistently battled troublesome injuries throughout his NFL career, most of which stem from knee problems. He has missed 13 games in the 2011 and 2012 season, but played every game last season.
Last offseason Delmas, who turns 27 in April, re-signed with the Lions, accepting a two-year contract worth $9.465 million.
The Dolphins are shopping for an upgrade over Chris Clemson, who has started 48 games for Miami since 2009. Re-signing Clemons, who contributed 93 tackles and one interception last season, remains an option for Miami. But it is not the team's top priority according to multiple sources.
Last year Clemons signed a one-year deal worth $2.75 million to return to the Dolphins. He's expected to test the free agent market again this offseason, but the Dolphins hope to find a safety with better ball skills and instincts.
The Dolphins have also spent two seasons grooming Jimmy Wilson, the team's nickel cornerback, to play safety, and its possible he could be paired with Reshad Jones next season if the position isn't addressed in free agency or May's draft.
The Dolphins will have between $35-40 million in cap space to use this offseason, and owner Steve Ross has given new general manager Dennis Hickey the green-light to spend money giving the roster a makeover.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun