Tavon Wilson saw several players come to New England the past four years and take the starting job that seemingly should’ve been his after being a second-round pick in 2012.
Devin McCourty became a star safety for the Patriots. Patrick Chung has been a leader on defense during his two separate stints. Steve Gregory had a couple good years. Duron Harmon made some starts.
Meanwhile, Wilson hasn’t been on the field for the first defensive snap since making four starts as a rookie, playing sparingly on defense the past three years, including just 7.6 percent of the snaps last season, according to Football Outsiders.
So, during his first venture into free agency, Wilson was just looking for an opportunity, and he thinks he found it with the Lions.
“I see an opportunity so I’m just trying to come here and do whatever I can to help this football team win,” he said during a teleconference. “Up to this point, nothing I’ve done really matters anymore. I’m here with the Detroit Lions now. I’m excited about this opportunity, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Wilson was productive as a rookie with 41 tackles, six passes defensed and four interceptions. However, his role the past few years has been dependent on the opponent, and he has totaled just five passes defensed the past three years.
Wilson declined to say what he expects his role to be, but he said he spoke to Glover Quin and hopes to earn the chance to play next to him.
“It’s up to me to develop my role on this football team, and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.
With a two-year, $2.2 million deal, Wilson didn’t get starter money. But, Rafael Bush’s deal wasn’t much bigger at one year, $1.5 million. So unless the Lions find another starting-caliber safety, it’ll likely come down to a training camp competition between the two free-agent acquisitions.
Wilson said his relationship with Lions general manager Bob Quinn piqued his interest in the Lions. Over the past four years, Wilson said he and Quinn would chat when they’d see each other.
On the field, Wilson said he’s willing to play anywhere the coaches put him. He just wants an opportunity.
“As a player, I think I’m physical, I think I’m smart,” he said. “I feel like I can run. I feel like there’s a lot of different things I can do well. I’ve just got to go out there and show it.”