James Ihedigbo is one of the last top defensive backs in free agency. What would it mean if the Chicago Bears landed him?
Phil Emery not resting on his Ryan Mundy signing
Since the start of NFL free agency, Bears GM Phil Emery has been working feverishly at reshaping the defensive roster. He’s signed several new players highlighted by defensive ends Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. However the greatest influx of new faces unquestionably has come at the safety position. Following the departure of Major Wright, Chicago has added three new names to the depth chart in Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings and Danny McCray. Mundy is expected to compete for Wright’s former job at strong safety while Jennings and McCray look primarily like special teams help. Now on top of all that rumors are flying that the Chicago Bears are in a bidding contest for the services of veteran safety James Ihedigbo with the Detroit Lions. At the age of 30, Ihedigbo has played for three different teams in his career and spent the last two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. In that span he helped the team win a championship in 2012 and comes off the best season of his career in 2013 where he had 101 tackle, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He’s got excellent size at 6’1″ and the winning experience he brings would provide plenty of help the Bears secondary.
Aaron Donald and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix look like the primary draft targets
Considering Ihedigbo would be the fourth safety added to the roster that seems destined for the strong side job, there are two primary ideas to take away from it in regards to the Chicago Bears draft plan. It almost certainly means the team will focus on the defensive line and linebackers in the early rounds, most notably defensive tackle Aaron Donald from Pittsburgh who looks like the ideal replacement for the departed Henry Melton. On the other hand, something to take note of with Phil Emery is that he doesn’t always stop reloading a position in free agency. Adding Ihedigbo would not exactly qualify as an “upgrade.” Free safety Chris Conte is still without any legitimate competition that Emery promised, and Emery has a history of double teaming problems in free agency and the draft. In 2012 he reloaded the receiver position by trading for Brandon Marshall and then drafting Alshon Jeffery in the second round. Last year he signed Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson off the market and then drafted Kyle Long to revamp the offensive line. Having added Mundy and pursuing Ihedigbo to bolster the strong safety position, Emery could look to pluck up top free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama in the first round to bring it all together.
There is no question the Chicago Bears would benefit from the presence of James Ihedigbo. The only thing to ponder is exactly what those benefits would do to the overall plans for the franchise.