COMMENTARY| Hustle, energy, non-stop -- those words perfectly describe Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas.
Delmas, a former Western Michigan star, can't be missed on the field. He's flying, tackling, tipping passes, drilling receivers and giving quarterbacks fits in coverage. There is almost nothing he can't do, really.
"This is the guy," Lions defensive backs coach Tim Walton said. "This guy makes the clock tick back there in a lot of different ways. The adjustments the mentality, the energy, the toughness, the communication. All the parts that go with the game, this is the guy.
"He's the quarterback of the defense. He brings that to the table. He brings a calmness to those guys, and a confidence to the other guys around him that makes those other guys feel like they can perform at an even higher level. He keeps the standard very high."
The Lions have a situation on their hands when it comes to free-agency, a topic that has been addressed by several media outlets. One of Detroit's main concerns, though, should be retaining Delmas, who will be a free agent in 2013.
Defensive end Cliff Avril wants his deal. Steven Tulloch got his. Calvin Johnson, well, he more than got his. Avril will have to wait, though. He's been franchised, and the chances of him signing his desired four-year, $42 million deal are slim to none at this point. Perhaps, the Lions will revisit the conversation further down the line this season.
However, Delmas should be the (remaining) main target on the defensive side of the ball. He made just over $970,000 in 2011, but he's proven that he's worth more. He played just 11 games in 2011 due to a leg injury, but his previous two years were indicators of what's to come: He had over 80 tackles in 2009 and 2010, and was among league leaders in pass deflections in 2009.
He's certainly earned the right to negotiate a larger sum in 2013.
Delmas isn't an Eric Berry, the Kansas City Chiefs' top draft pick in 2010 who signed a six-year, $60 million deal. Berry missed all but one game of the 2011 season to injury, but had 92 tackles and four picks as a rookie. Delmas had 94 tackles his rookie season with two interceptions.
Berry is regarded as one of the best safeties in the NFL. Delmas could reach that level.
I'm not comparing Delmas head-to-head with Berry, simply giving a measure, a way to give a rough idea on how to gauge one of the NFL's highest-paid safeties to Delmas. Even if Delmas was viewed as half the player Berry is, then half the contract would be in order. Seems logical.
The Lions need to lock up Delmas. There really isn't a way around it. He'll become increasingly more valuable each season as the Lions defense tightens up, giving support to one of NFC's top offenses. I expect Detroit to re-sign Delmas once his current contract expires.
Delmas' initial deal was a four-year, approximately $6 million contract. I'd expect him to seek another four- or five-year term, for roughly five to six times the money. Let's entertain this idea: A five-year deal for about $35 million, for starters, of course.
Adam Biggers has followed the NFL for over 20 years, specifically the Detroit Lions. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.