Entering the final season of a two-year deal he signed last March, Lion safety James Ihedigbo doesn’t plan to report to any offseason activities unless he receives a new contract, his agent told Brad Galli of WXYZ in Detroit. Ihedigbo is set to earn a base salary of $1.1MM for the upcoming season.
The 31-year-old Ihedigbo started 13 games for the Lions last season, teaming with Glover Quin to form a strong safety duo in the back end of a stout Detroit defense. In what was his seventh NFL season, he registered 66 tackles, four interceptions, and two sacks, also forced three fumbles. Using either raw statistics or Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, 2014 was the best season of Ihedigbo’s career — he graded as the league’s 14th-best safety last year, per PFF (subscription required).
Obviously a key piece on Detroit’s defense, Ihedigbo has a history with Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin that dates back to the two’s time in Baltimore, so Detroit presumably wants Ihedigbo around for the 2015 season. But whether that means the team is willing to tack on years or add salary to the contract of a player entering his thirties is another question.
Ihedigbo was due a $500K roster bonus that was already paid on the third day of the league year, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Furthermore, tweets Wilson, the Lions knew of Ihedigbo’s displeasure with his current contract before they paid the bonus. The fact that Detroit paid the bonus while abreast of Ihedigbo’s desire for a new deal, then, should seem to bode well for the chances of the two sides working out a solution.
Part of the reason for Ihedigbo’s current mindset is the new contract given to teammate, and fellow safety, Isa Abdul-Quddus last month, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). Abdul-Quddus will earn $1.2MM in base salary next season ($100K more than Ihedigbo), and is a reserve who played approximately 550 snaps fewer in ’14 than did Ihedigbo. Of course, in terms of total compensation (bonuses included), Ihedigbo will earn more than Abdul-Quddus, but it’s fair for the former to view the situation as a slight.