It’s seems the Detroit Lions have made yet another move, and this move involves agreeing to a two-year deal with veteran safety and former Baltimore Raven, James Ihedigbo.
Now, normally the media is the first to confirmed that a deal has taken place but in this case it was Ihedigbo who confirmed the news first, when he tweeted that he was officially a Detroit Lion. It was soon after that the media followed with official confirmation.
Now if you have been following the Lions free agency movements at this off-season, this signing is probably not a surprise. The Lions have been searching for a starting strong safety for a while now after releasing Louis Delmas last month. They have hosted three veteran safeties on free-agent visits over the last few weeks and Ihedigbo visited the Lions the first week of free agency.
Honestly, this move makes sense. Ihedigbo is a former Baltimore Raven and what better destination than the Lions, with defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and head coach Jim Caldwell, who he spent the past two years with during his time with the Ravens. Coming into this situation with the Lions, he’s already a good fit because he knows the system, coaching staff and is familiar and aware of what they need him to do.
When it comes to his on the field credentials, Ihedigbo had a career year in 2013, starting all 16 games and finishing the season with 101 tackles, 11 passes defended, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He was a member of the Baltimore Ravens 2013 Super Bowl winning squad and was a starter on their defense for the 2013-2014 season. No one can forget that he was a starting safety on the New England Patriots, although they lost to the New York Giants in the 2012 Super Bowl, he still had an impressive season.
Now just like most players, he does have weaknesses and if you look at his stats, you will see that he struggles in certain areas, particularly with interception and pass breakups but that doesn’t stop him from being what the Lions want and need. He is veteran who is bringing in a winning mentality and leadership. He may not be a huge play-maker but he is capable of making the big plays at times and he will always be in a position to make the correct play. Most importantly, he will play well alongside Lion safety Glover Quin and just like recently acquired wide receiver Golden Tate, Ihedigbo is bringing a Superbowl ring and experience. It may not seem like a big thing but for him to be able to come into the locker-room with Tate and show their Superbowl rings, could very well serve as extra motivation for this Lions team this season. Now don’t mis-understand me, I’m not saying that the Lions will instantly become Superbowl contenders because they see someone’s Superbowl ring but it helps to have another guy in the locker-room who has worked hard his entire career and has a Superbowl ring under his belt to show for it.
If all of that isn’t enough, I like the fact that Ihedigbo wants to be here in Detroit, with the Lions. As of free agent, he had a choice to go where he wanted and yet he chose to come to the Lions. Similar to Golden Tate, I believe he is ready to be a glue-man and help the Lions achieve greatness like he did with Baltimore and New England, which makes him an even better fit for this Lion team. I don’t know about you, when you have a player who wants to be here, who can perform on a consistent basis and be a leader in the locker-room, you have to consider yourself lucky.
Finally for those wondering how this move affects the NFL Draft for the Lions, keep in mind that this move doesn’t mean that the Lions won’t draft a safety in the 2014 NFL Draft, it just makes it a little easier to determine if the Lions will draft a safety in the first round or in the later rounds of the draft. Now, if the Lions are still considering drafting a safety with 10th pick, the main safety that comes to mind for the Lions is still Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. When it comes Clinton-Dix, you’re talking about an ideal safety. He has good size and height. He’s good coverage, always providing help for his fellow cornerbacks and looking to make a big play. He’s a consistent tackler, who knows how to wrap up and finish tackles and under the right coaching, he could even be used in containing the run game.
Personally, I don’t think that the Lions have to draft a safety with their 10th pick but if they do decide to go that route, there’s nothing I can do to stop them. However, there will be more options at safety in later rounds so if the Lions do want to draft a safety in this year’s draft, they will have options like Ahmad Dixon of Baylor , Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois, Deone Bucannon of Washington State, Ed Reynolds of Stanford and that’s just to name a few.
So for now, all we can do is speculate on what the Lions will do with the 10th pick in the NFL Draft but my money is on defensive back selection (hopefully Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State). However, getting back to the signing of Ihedigbo, I say again, that this is a solid signing that will go a long way into making the Lions a better team this season and hopefully a true playoff contender.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit