Lions sign Dean Marlowe; Like the wine, better with age?

Buffalo Bills strong safety Dean Marlowe (Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Buffalo Bills strong safety Dean Marlowe (Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

Entering this offseason, the Detroit Lions had several questions at the safety position. And through the first few weeks of free agency, the Lions had yet to address them.

Detroit figured once again to wait until the NFL draft later this month to do so. After all, their current duo of projected starting safeties was found this way. Tracy Walker was a third-round selection by Detroit in the 2018 draft. And Will Harris, another third-rounder, was drafted the following year.

Duron Harmon, a 16-game starter at safety for the Lions last season, is currently a free agent. Walker started seven games while Harris started in only five in 2020. Jayron Kearse, who signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, also started seven games for Detroit last year.

Entering 2021, the new regime in Detroit figured to retool the safety position as they’ve done with several other positions on their roster. Yet, they recently addressed needs at the cornerback position instead, inking free-agent veterans like Quinton Dunbar and Corn Elder to new deals.

But that changed on Thursday with the announcement that the Lions have signed former Buffalo Bills safety Dean Marlowe. Mainly a special teams contributor over his three years with the Bills, Marlowe was stuck behind longtime starters Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde on the depth chart in Buffalo.

Undrafted in 2015 out of James Madison, the 28-year old Marlowe started his NFL career with the Carolina Panthers. But he would end up playing in only five games over his first three years in the league.

Marlowe was able to post a career-high four starts in 2020, racking up 22 tackles, two interceptions, and 1.5 sacks. He also played a career-high 230 defensive snaps (22%) and 215 special teams snaps (48%).

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Signing with the Detroit Lions, Dean Marlowe finally gets a chance to prove he’s worthy of a much more impactful role and should compete with both Tracy Walker and Will Harris for playing time. Yet, Marlowe’s signing certainly doesn’t preclude the Lions from again drafting for the position later this month.