James Ihedigbo’s decision to sign with the Lions was not a surprise, but it took another option at safety away from the Ravens. Ihedigbo, who had 101 tackles and three interceptions as a Ravens’ starter at strong safety last season, agreed to a two-year deal Monday, confirming it on Twitter.
Now the Ravens will continue searching for a starter at free safety, as they plan to move Matt Elam to strong safety. They signed former Rams safety Darian Stewart to a one-year deal last week. But Stewart is not guaranteed to be the starter next season, and expect the Ravens to continue shopping for a free safety during free agency and the draft.
Ihedigbo was a solid player for the Ravens in his first year as a starter, and he will rejoin head coach Jim Caldwell and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin in Detroit. Caldwell was the Ravens’ offensive coordinator last season, while Austin was the secondary coach. Both of them wanted Ihedigbo. At age 30, he can provide veteran leadership to a Lions secondary that struggled last season.
The Ravens believe Elam has the pursuit and tackling skills to play well at strong safety, and hope to pair him with a free safety that is stronger in pass coverage. Who will that safety be? That remains uncertain, but the Ihedigbo-Elam starting tandem is over.
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