After starting 21 games for the Lions over the past two seasons, safety James Ihedigbo has been sitting on the open market since his contract expired this spring. And while he hasn’t yet taken any known free agent visits, Ihedigbo expressed confidence to SiriusXM NFL Radio that he’ll find a landing spot before the regular season begins.
“The thing about this part of the game and just the business aspect of it, teams are going to want to see if their young guys got it — they want to see guys that they drafted two years ago, if they can play at a high level, if they can handle the mental aspect of the game more than special teams, of playing offense and defense,” said Ihedigbo. “And then you have to account for the injury rate. It happens every year, the first week of training camp, guys go down or guys aren’t performing up to management’s expectation, and that’s when guys like myself get that phone call.
“Yeah, could my agent possibly get me a league-minimum deal with somebody right now? Yeah. But at the other end of it, you increase your value if you were to just patiently wait for that opportunity, which tends to happen every year.”
Ihedigo did say that he has received inquiries from clubs, with teams wondering if he’s staying in shape in the hopes of earning a roster spot. But Ihedigbo is probably correct in that he’ll have to wait for an injury before he garners any serious interest. That’s partly due to his age (32), and partly due to his production in 2015, when he lost his starting job to Isa Abdul-Quddus down the stretch and ultimately ranked as the No. 64 safety among 89 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus, grading much better against the run than the pass. As recently as 2014, however, Ihedigbo posted the best season of his career, so he’s not far removed from above-average play.
Ihedigbo said in May that he’d like to play for his hometown Texans, and that’s a match that might make sense on paper. Ihedigbo is a similar player to fellow free agent safety Donte Whitner, for whom I recently listed eight potential landing spots, so many of the fits I outlined could be logical for Ihedigbo, as well.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.