2. S DeShon Elliott
Elliott was everything the Lions could have hoped he’d be after they signed him to a one-year deal last offseason.
Despite missing three games, including a benching, Elliott was second on the team in tackles with 96. With the nearly season-long absence of safety Tracy Walker (Achilles’ tear in Week 3), he became an important veteran leader in the secondary to go with being a key cog in how the Lions’ run defense improved in the second half of the season. His absence in Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers, when Detroit surrendered multiple big runs early on the way to allowing 320 rushing yards on the day, was noteworthy beforehand and greatly noticeable on the field as Ifeatu Melifonwu struggled in his place.
While Walker is making great progress in rehabbing his torn Achilles, his health will be an ongoing question as next season gets closer. Elliott has his own durability concerns, as he missed big chunks of two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and missed three games this year. But that should serve to keep his cost reasonable.
If Elliott wants to come back, the door should be open for him to do so. He is a great scheme fit, and Brian Duker’s elevation to defensive backs coach during this season (the two spent time together in Baltimore) may drive Elliott’s own desire to re-sign.