Philadelphia took another free agent off the board today, nabbing O.J. Atogwe on a one-year deal. The Lions showed considerable interest in the former St. Louis Ram and Washington Redskin back in May when they hosted him for a visit. He left Detroit without a deal, and there hadn’t been much news on the issue since. Other safeties they brought in during the off-season are Chris Crocker and Sean Jones.
Right now, the Lions have five guys that could potentially compete for the starting jobs. Louis Delmas is close to a lock and Amari Spievey should start at the other safety, so long as they stay healthy. They also return Erik Coleman, John Wendling and converted from cornerback Don Carey.
With that group of guys, there is no room for an injury, so it’s necessary for the Lions to sign at least another safety before the start of the season. The team ran in to similar problems last season in terms of depth, when they had to start former wide receiver Rashied Davis in the secondary. Now that the free agent pool is a bit smaller, Detroit should be prioritizing signing a safety immediately.
Another guy the Lions have reportedly shown interest in some time ago is Deon Grant, who spent last season in the New York Giants’ secondary. He’s 31 years old, but the Lions aren’t really in the market for a safety to be in it for the long haul, but rather a crafty veteran who can mix it up. Right now it’s all about depth, and Grant can give you quality time from the bench and can start if needed. Last year he had 64 total tackles, a sack and an interception.
He’s reliable as well. Since 2001, Grant’s sophomore year, he has played in in every regular season game (176 out of 176) while starting in all but 15 of those. As a member of last year’s Super Bowl winning Giants, he brings some veteran leadership to the table as well, similar to how Chris Harris did last year. That’s the kind of durability the Lions need so desperately.
Some of the other safeties that are still available are Jim Leonhard (Jets), Jon McGraw (Chiefs), Melvin Bullitt (Colts) and Chris Harris.