Louis Delmas' return to Lions win-win for both parties

Posted Mar 20, 2013

The contract structure of Louis Delmas protects the Lions from a salary cap standpoint while giving the fifth-year safety the opportunity to cash in

PHOENIX -- No one seems happier for the return of safety Louis Delmas for this upcoming season than Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz.

"I was really happy to get Delmas back," Schwartz told reporters during the NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL League Meetings on Wednesday. "He's the leader on our defense. When he's on the field for us he's a difference maker. I think I've said a lot of times that when we're good on defense it's because we play with Louis Delmas' personality."

Delmas is one of the best young safeties in the league when healthy and the Lions are a much better defense with him on the field.

The team's 26-23 victory over the Eagles in Week 6 last season speaks to his impact. After missing the first four games of the season, Delmas had seven tackles, two tackles for loss, an interception and defended two passes in the win. He should have had a sack, too, but fell prey for a pump fake by Michael Vick.

"We missed him on the field last year." Schwartz said of the eight games played without Delmas in 2012. "Missed him at practice. We missed his energy. We missed his ability to range and make plays and to overlap.

"You guys saw what a difference it was when he came back for that Philly game. It was a shot in the arm. Not just making tackles and things like that but making interceptions and knocking passes down. That excitement was contagious."

After visits to St. Louis and San Francisco to hear free agent sales pitches, Delmas re-signed with the Lions late last week.

Details of that contract were made public Wednesday and it shows the Lions protected themselves from Delmas' recent injury history with the language of the deal.

Louis Delmas
S Louis Delmas (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

Delmas, who has missed 13 games over the past two seasons because of injuries to both knees, received a $ 1 million signing bonus and has a minimum base salary of $715,000 in 2013, but he can earn another $1.75 million if he plays in all 16 games, according to published reports.

If he plays 42 percent of the Lions' defensive snaps this year, he'll make an additional $109,375 for each game he's on the active gameday roster.

Delmas will receive a $5.5 million base salary in 2014 and $500,000 roster bonus.

The Lions always wanted Delmas back, and offered him a contract following a physical they brought him in for before the free agency period began, but they were also realistic regarding his availability the last two years and the trouble he's had with his knees.

The two-year deal seems to be a win-win for both parties, with the Lions protecting themselves from a future salary cap standpoint if the injuries continue to plague Delmas.

From Delmas' perspective, if he proves he can stay healthy, he collect more than $9 million over the next two seasons and then hits free agency again at age 27 with another chance to cash in.

"It was really important to get him back," Schwartz said. "We know exactly what we have in him, the biggest thing is him being healthy enough to stay on the field for us," Schwartz said.