Lions’ Safety’s Career Season, Tough Mentality Could Necessitate Return

DeShon Elliott

Getty DeShon Elliott slams a Packers player in a 2023 game.

The Detroit Lions had a tough season on defense in 2022, and as a result, there weren’t many bright spots the team could point to overall.

One of the biggest, however, was safety DeShon Elliott. Signed as an unheralded offseason free agent, Elliott went on to have a career year for the Lions, and as a result, could have earned himself a look to stick around.

The Lions’ PR account pointed out that Elliott had the kind of season most defensive backs dream about. He not only set some career highs with regards to tackling, but was one of just a handful of defensive backs to have an across the board impact this season.

“Lions’ DeShon Elliott set a career-high with 95 tackles and five tackles for loss this season. He was one-of-four NFL DB’s to produce at least 95 tackles, five tackles for loss, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 2022,” the site tweeted.

Not only was Elliott productive, but his mindset seemed to mesh with the Lions, too. He was a key player in the locker room with teammates, and he proved what a fit he was when he stood up to Aaron Rodgers late in the season after the quarterback made some comments about the Lions.

It’s hard to let players coming off career seasons walk, especially when those players seem to mesh so well with their team. That’s a big reason Elliott could return this offseason when all is said and done.

Lions Projected to Replace Elliott

Will the Lions bring back Elliott as an in-house free agent? That’s a big question the team will be looking to sort out in the next few weeks and months.

Interestingly, some are projecting the Lions to go bigger than Elliott at the safety position when the offseason gets underway in March, and projecting a big name safety comes into the mix in the form of Vonn Bell.

In an offseason guide, insiders took a look at making some predictions for what plays out for various teams that did not make the playoffs. With regards to the Lions, Football Outsider analyst Aaron Schatz wrote he sees the team making a huge splash.

Schatz projected a defensive free agent bonanza for the Lions, with three top names signing in linebacker Lavonte David, cornerback James Bradberry and Bell all being snapped up by the team.

“The Lions will go on a defensive spending spree, with veteran defenders attracted to playing for no-nonsense coach Dan Campbell. Lavonte David will set the tone for the defense next to Malcolm Rodriguez at inside linebacker. James Bradberry will give the Lions a solid veteran cornerback to line up opposite Jeff Okudah. At safety, Vonn Bell replaces DeShon Elliott next to second-year free safety Kerby Joseph,” Schatz wrote in the piece.

Bell, a safety, would be the youngest member of the trio at 28. He is no less productive, however, given 632 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, six interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries and 34 passes defended. He would be a key young piece for Detroit’s back end.

One thing that Elliott would have which Bell would not? Good chemistry with the Lions left over from the 2022-23 season. That fact simply cannot be ignored at this point as the Lions try to build their team to sustain winning.

Elliott Enjoyed 2022 Revival for Lions

After being benched at the halfway point of the year, Elliott made big play after big play the last handful of weeks of the year, which has shown his overall value to the team and proven how important he is.

Elliott has churned out more than a few big plays, and possibly the best he made down the stretch was the forced fumble on second-and-six in the first quarter that set the tone against Jacksonville. Without that, the Lions may not get off to such a quality start in a game they would go on to win 40-14.

Signed to a one-year deal this offseason, Elliott could be making a strong case to stay as a key young piece. That’s especially true given the fact he has 96 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble, solid numbers to finish the season with.

His rebound for the Lions was very impressive, as was his play at safety, a critical spot on the field. The way he embraced the locker room and Detroit is also to be celebrated.

Add it all up and Elliott could certainly be one of the biggest priorities the Lions will have this whole offseason.

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