Louis 'Da Missile' Delmas was the emotional leader for the Lions
By Neal Coolong on Feb 17 2014
The Steelers reportedly met with Delmas Monday, presumably out of mutual interest in his services in the Steelers' defensive secondary for the 2014 season. It'd be a key acquisition, considering the Steelers' lack of depth at their safety positions.
"Delmas was the emotional leader of the Lions' defense, and he was nicknamed 'Da Missile' in Detroit for a reason," Yuille said. "He's a big hitter, and he typically tries to take opponents down by flying at them instead of wrapping up for a form tackle. This aggressive style can make him a great playmaker at times, but it can also lead to some serious negatives (massive coverage breakdowns, accidentally taking out teammates with whiffed hits, etc.)."
Some call those things negatives. Some call them Steelers football. Somewhere between there is a lot of what the Steelers have been missing the last three years - big lumber coming downhill from the secondary. Perhaps it's not a coincidence the amount of fines issued to the Steelers' defensive backs has dropped quite a bit since 2010, and so have the amount of fumbles they've forced. Delmas's aggressive and physical style could help create more of those takeaways.
And more injuries, too. One thing to be said about Ryan Clark, the Steelers' starting free safety since 2007, is he's been healthy, outside a freak incident in which he was diagnosed with a rare blood condition. Clark spent most of the 2007 season recovering from an injury in the high altitudes in Denver.
Delmas has a checkered injury past, and that as much as anything else led to his release in Detroit. Yuille agreed with that, and in a situation very similar to what Pittsburgh is facing with outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, it's the negative risk-reward ratio he carries, considering his contract.
Yuille says Delmas was not one of his favorite players and was "happy to see him released." In the end, price became an issue.
"Delmas' release strictly came down to the fact that he was set to get $6 million this year," Yuille said. "His production level in 2013 didn't warrant that kind of a cap hit, especially since injuries are always going to be a concern with him.
"The Lions gave him an incentive-laden contract last year, and 2013 was the first time he ever played in all 16 games in a season. That only happened because the Lions carefully managed his practice schedule in order to make sure his bad knees didn't keep him out of game action."
If that's the case, the Steelers are an ideal match for Delmas. This is a team that has taken care of veteran players. Former wide receiver Hines Ward didn't practice on Wednesday for the last three years of his career. Troy Polamalu missed practice due to a defect of his birth certificate, as coach Mike Tomlin so eloquently said it last year. If Delmas would be willing to accept less money for the obvious risk the Steelers would have to take with him, it could work out well for both sides.
Yuille sees the reality in the situation though. Often injured can't be considered to contribute fully to the team.
"The Lions reportedly want Delmas back on a more affordable contract, so clearly they like the kind of player he is," Yuille said. "However, between the constant injury risk and his inconsistent nature, I personally want them to go in a different direction. If I were a Steelers fan and they end up signing Delmas, I'd be rooting for a short-term, incentive-laden deal with very little guaranteed money in it."