Free Agent Outlook: James IhedigboPosted on March 05, 2014 by Will Grabill
Coming off his 1 year, $780,000 deal with the Ravens, Ihedigbo proved his value as a starting caliber safety. The problem is that he plays the same position as 2013 1st round draft pick Matt Elam. Having two strong safeties in the secondary hurt the Ravens pass defense for much of the year, as did Ihedigbo's very high number of missed tackles. Elam is the future of the team at the strong safety position, making Ihedigbo expendable. But Ihedigbo has done everything right, from working up from a backup to a starter, and performing at a very high level. He is coming off three consecutive one year deals, so the length of his contract may be a sticking point in negotiations.
Forced Fumbles: 2
Pro Football Focus Season Grade: +4.7 on 1098 snaps *For a more detailed look on the PFF grading system, visit https://www.profootballfocus.com/about/grading/
Will He Stay?
James Ihedigbo at 30 years old has never signed a contract with a one year value of more than $1.01 million. He is currently rated as the 4th highest graded player of all free agent safeties. Although he is 4th on this list, he is well behind the top three and is a few years older than other graded similarly to him.
The Ravens appear to only have one safety of the future on the team. Assuming Elam takes over the strong safety role full time next season, the Ravens primary need in the secondary is at free safety. Elam is also the only safety currently on the Ravens roster. Jeromy Miles joins Ihedigbo as unrestricted free agents, and Brynden Trawick, Omar Brown, Anthony Levine are all exclusive rights free agents. If Ihedigbo returns, the Ravens will have to have a more creative strategy to utilize him. If Ihedigbo bolts after his career year, the Ravens will need to address the free safety position in either free agency or the draft. The Ravens have a history of picking up cap casualties, and if they go that route Louis Delmas would be the main target. In the draft, Ha Ha Clinton Dix is the most pro-ready safety available. There are also a multitude of late round safety prospects, though they are not necessarily starting quality.
Verdict: Signs Elsewhere 2 years $4 million