The Detroit Lions continue to examine ways to improve their thin secondary. Per ESPN’s Field Yates, the Lions are hosting former Buffalo Bills safety Dean Marlowe for a visit. The visit was confirmed by Thursday’s official transaction list.
An undrafted prospect in 2015, Marlowe has carved out a pretty nice career for him over the past six seasons. He beat the odds and made the Carolina Panthers’ 53-man roster in his rookie season, eventually playing in four games on special teams. Unfortunately for Marlowe, his career took a hit the following season when he suffered a season-ending hamstring injury.
It wasn’t until late 2017 that Marlowe got his next chance in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills. For the past three years in Buffalo, he’s slowly worked his way into a playing role on defense, culminating in a 2020 season in which he played in all 15 games and started four. As a result, Marlowe notched the first two interceptions of his career to go along with 22 tackles and 1.5 sacks. That being said, his overall PFF grade for 2020—just his second season with significant playing time on defense—was a mere 53.8.
In Detroit, Marlowe could potentially compete with Will Harris for playing time alongside Tracy Walker. He brings a good amount of special teams experience, and he’s better suited to play multiple roles the box. Here’s Marlowe explaining his own strengths back before the 2020 season:
“I can play the nickel role; I can play the big nickel linebacker role too. I can play both positions at safety. I’m very valuable when it comes to the versatility in our secondary,” Marlowe said per Syracuse.com.
Indeed, he flashed his versatility last season, playing 54 snaps in the box, 56 at nickel corner, and 96 at free safety.
Marlowe isn’t the only free agent safety the Lions are looking at. Earlier this week, they hosted former Broncos defensive back Will Parks. They also brought in Damontae Kazee for a visit, but he ended up signing with the Cowboys.
Overall, Detroit needs significant help at the safety position. Among the players they currently have at the position, only Walker and Harris have significant playing time on defense. Given both Walker’s and Harris’ struggles last year, along with Duron Harmon still out there in free agency, Marlowe would be a low-cost but much-needed addition.