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Draft Rookie Safety, Sign Veteran Free Agent or Both? Detroit Lions Need Clarity


The Detroit Lions hosted a pair of free agent safeties on Friday in Chris Clemons and Thomas DeCoud. This includes interest they reportedly still have in James Ihedigbo, who remains unsigned while weighing all of his options.

Another week and the empty safety situation remains unresolved with little clarity and more confusion. At this point in time, it appears as if the Lions are still content to sign one of the three veterans, but are any of them significantly better than the rookies the team could eventually select in May?

That’s not a question easily answered. DeCoud was a weak link for the Atlanta Falcons last season, and while Ihedigbo is a veteran and would certainly be able to grasp Teryl Austin’s defense, he’s hasn’t exactly been a consistent statistical force throughout his career. Clemons is perhaps the nicest player of the bunch considering his age and steady production last season.

In free agency, the only question the Lions must now answer is the one posed before. Are any one of the safeties they could sign truly better than the players they could groom? Whether it’s HaHa Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor, Jimmie Ward or somone else, Detroit would be able to find the rookie player to best fit their defense and new scheme rather than make a shoehorn move with a veteran they’re not sure of simply to fill space.

The situation doesn’t have to be either-or, however, unless the Lions decide to sign Clemons, who is the youngest at 28 and has the highest ceiling. Detroit could conceivably sign either Ihedigbo or DeCoud and pair them with a rookie. That way, the rookie wouldn’t be overwhelmed in his first year, nor would either of the more suspect free agents Detroit is considering be left completely alone.

Currently, the Lions are still in good shape with Glover Quin, who is versatile and solid in the middle of the field while remaining capable of playing at a high level. Either situation, whether addition of a rookie and a free agent or one or the other could work given Detroit’s elite defensive line and solid linebacking core.

More than anything, the Lions must be prepared to answer the question soon while they still have many accessible options. Outside additions remain available, but quicker clarity is needed before they dwindle.

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