After day one of NFL Free Agency the Detroit Lions found themselves losing out on a couple of top rated free agent Safeties. However today, there is still a chance for the Lions to address the need in their defensive backfield.
— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 11, 2014
Former Miami Dolphin Chris Clemons is still available and currently the leading candidate to replace the departed Louis Delmas. Clemons would be a definite up grade to Delmas in the durability department having started 32 games over that last two seasons. His 93 tackles in 2013 would be a welcome addition to a defense that had difficulty stopping runners in the open field last season.
Clemons would not only be an upgrade for the Lions in skill but also in price. After a day one rush on Safeties, the market price has been set high and Clemons is the best of the remaining free agents. Competition could also drive up the price on Clemons. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets are also reportedly interested in the Free Agent Safety. Considering the price, signing Clemons may be difficult considering the Lions have only around $6.6 million available in cap space after signing RB Joique Bell and WR Kevin Ogletree.
The last safety off the board was Jarius Byrd who signed a 6 year $56 million dollar deal with the New Orleans Saints. That is an average of $9 million per year, something that is clearly not in the Detroit Lions budget. True Chris Clemons won’t command $9 million a year but the Lions should expect to pay upwards of $6 million a year.
Paying a price like that would gobble up the Lions remaining cap space making it impossible for them to court free agent wide receivers Golden Tate and James Jones. Unless General Manager Martin Mayhew can create some magical cap space, it looks like the Lions free agent shopping spree might be limited to only one top free agents left on the market.