In a flurry of offseason moves, the Detroit Lions were able to land safety Duron Harmon in a trade with the New England Patriots. Harmon’s play has the potential to allow us to forget about the awful Quandre Diggs trade from a year ago.
General Manager (GM) Bob Quinn returned to the ‘well’ that is the New England Patriots cast-offs to find the Detroit Lions safety replacement for Quandre Diggs. The Harmon move allowed the Patriots to free up just shy of $4-million entering this season.
Harmon is a terrific coverage safety who excels playing centerfield having made 17 interceptions on only 29 career starts. Harmon has also accounted for 175 tackles over his seven-year career, playing primarily as a backup. As you can imagine, he fits into head coach Matt Patricia’s scheme perfectly. No shocker, of course, since the pair worked together for years in New England.
With the Patriots, Harmon was regularly used in coverage and certain passing situations working as the teams’ third safety behind Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty. Those two veteran safeties allowed for Harmon to be expendable entering his contract season.
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After Bob Quinn ill-advisedly traded away Diggs during the season last year, it not only sent a negative ripple effect through the Detroit Lions locker room. It was a move that didn’t make sense when you consider the organization only saw a fifth-round pick as the return.
When you look on the bright side of things, if the Lions decided to retain Diggs who was set to make $5.1 million in 2020 and $5.3 million in 2021, Harmon is a slightly cheaper version set to make $4.5 million against the cap (according to Spotrac) that is sure to help the secondary in coverage. Diggs a good player, a leader that loves to play more in the box with a nose for finding a ball carrier in aiding the defense’s run support. He’s made 226 tackles and nine interceptions over his five-year career.
Harmon will be paired in the Detroit Lions secondary with an emerging star, safety Tracy Walker this season, with Will Harris also mixed in.
Last season the entire Detroit Lions defense performed poorly. It was a secondary that struggled to cover, but most of that is due to an abysmal pass-rush. A corner or safety in man coverage can’t stick to an NFL receiver for upwards of five-seconds after the football has been snapped.
Many point to Darius Slay’s terrible Pro Football Grade (PFF) of sub-60 and claim moving on was the correct move. As much as I enjoy PFF, this is a case where the rating system falters. Somehow they need to account for quarterback pressures when grading players in the secondary.
I believe with the additions of Desmond Trufant, Jeff Okudah, and Harmon, the Lions secondary has vastly improved from a year ago. It’s a defenses’ success that hinges on the teams pass-rush, something that can still be addressed with a handful of capable edge-rushers left on the market. The Lions shouldn’t expect rookie Julian Okwara and veteran Jamie Collins to create all of the edge pressure without a backup plan.
Harmon, nicknamed ‘the closer’ for his ball-hawking abilities primarily late in games brings a much-needed added dimension to a Lions secondary. If the Lions can create pressure, Harmon, along with the rest of Detroit’s secondary, will be successful in 2020, allowing us to forget about the atrocious trade of Diggs a year ago.