The Detroit Lions have signed strong safety James Ihedigbo to a two-year contract according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.
He’s coming off a career-year where he posted 101 tackles, 11 passes defensed, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He finished second on the team in tackles to linebacker Daryl Smith and recorded the first three interceptions of his eight year career last season. Ihedigbo has 244 career tackles, six sacks, three forced fumbles and three interceptions for his career.
The newly signed Lion took to twitter to announce the move Monday night:
— DIGGZ32 (@JamesIhedigbo) March 25, 2014
Ihedigbo was an undrafted free agent out of UMass in 2007 and signed with the New York Jets. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve (arm) and was a reserve safety and key special teams contributor for the Jets from 2008-10. He then joined the New England Patriots, starting 12 games in 2011. The Patriots re-signed him for 2012, but he was a late preseason cut, which led him to sign with the Ravens.
The Ravens opted not to re-sign the 30-year-old Ihedigbo, instead signing the injury-prone former Ram Darian Stewart to fill the void, which made the veteran available for a Detroit coaching staff that is very familiar with the former Raven. Lions’ head coach Jim Caldwell and Loins’ defensive coordinator Teryl Austin were both on the Ravens’ coaching staff the past two seasons in Baltimore.
IDP OUTLOOK: Ihedigbo will enter the starting lineup next to Glover Quin on the back end of the Lions’ defense and it will more than likely be as the strong safety with his reputation as a big hitter and special teams standout. Quin will play more of the center fielder role with Ihedigbo occupying most of his time within the vicinity of the tackle box, making him the more ideal fantasy option of the two. While Ihedigbo was a #1 safety option last year, there is no guarantee that he will replicate his 2013 stats but there is a good shot of him getting close to his 100 tackle total which makes him a solid bet as a backup safety or DB #3 in your deeper leagues.
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington pleaded guilty on Monday to his aggravated assault charge from last May and he will be sentenced Wednesday April 23 according to the Maricopa County Superior Court.
The Cardinals recently paid Washington a $10 million option bonus March 13th even after his transgressions and the fifth year player will be under contract through 2017.
Washington will be leaned on heavily after inside linebacker Karlos Dansby left the desert for Cleveland and while he is more than capable, his only issue has been staying out of trouble.
IDP OUTLOOK: IDP owners remember that Washington was suspended four games to open the 2013 season for substance abuse violations and it appears that the former TCU standout could be headed toward even more discipline from the watchful eye of Roger Goodell. Even with the potential of a multiple game absence, Washington still projects as a linebacker #1 for the last 12 or so games of the season and that makes him worthy of being one of the first 25 IDP players off the board. He posted 75 total tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, a recovered fumble and 10 passes defended in only 12 games of action last year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and former Buffalo Bills linebacker Arthur Moats have agreed to terms on a 1-year contract according to PROFOOTBALLTALK.com.
Moats started 12 games as an inside linebacker in Mike Pettine’s odd front last season and has the versatility needed to play either inside or outside in the Steelers’ version of the 3-4 defense but also brings a lot of special teams experience to the table.
The 26-year-old Moats entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick of the Bills in 2010 out of James Madison University and has played in 59 games over his four years in the league recording 141 combined tackles (80 solo, 61 assists), 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery.
IDP OUTLOOK: While he may be best known as the player who ended Brett Favre’s streak of 297 consecutive games played, he could factor in as a downhill run stuffing inside linebacker in situational packages for Dick Lebeau. Ultimately this is a blow to the already tenuous dynasty stock of Vince Williams, as Moats trumps him in experience and special teams value. Meanwhile, Lawrence Timmons remains status quo as the three down linebacker to own from a fantasy perspective.
The Broncos aren’t the only team in win-now mode, as the New Orleans Saints landed one of the top-rated free agents in the market on Tuesday. The team announced that it has agreed to a six-year contract with former Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd. The deal is worth $54 million, with $28 million guaranteed, a league source told NFL.com.
The 27-year old three-time Pro-Bowler will be paired with emerging young safety Kenny Vaccaro and he’ll be a huge addition for a young Saints defense that was already headed in the right direction last year.
So much for the Saints being slammed up against the salary cap, as New Orleans has parted ways with six players this off-season who could be considered among their all-time greats (Sproles, Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma, Roman Harper, Jabari Greer and Lance Moore) in efforts to get under the cap. Incidentally, the Saints now have zero defensive players remaining from their 2009 Super Bowl team.
Of course the last time the Saints signed a free agent to this large a contract it was when they signed Drew Brees to a six-year, $60 million deal in 2006 so they can’t garner too much criticism for the move.
IDP OUTLOOK: Byrd is a ball hawking safety that will play as the centerfielder at free safety for Rob Ryan and allow second year pro Kenny Vaccaro even more freedom as a rusher, as well as run stuffer at strong safety. If anything, Vaccaro’s redraft value just spiked upward with this addition but the big worry is how many tackle opportunities Jairus Byrd will see now that he is no longer playing football for a perennial loser in Buffalo.
Broncos general manager John Elway is putting emphasis on the defensive side of the football this off-season and his latest acquisition is none other than the career sack leader of the Dallas Cowboys, Demarcus Ware.
According to NFL Insider, Adam Schefter, the Broncos and Ware have agreed to a three year deal worth $30 million that includes $20 million guaranteed.
John Elway apparently “Loves the thought of Demarcus Ware opposite Von Miller” and it is a certainty that AFC West quarterbacks already hate the notion.
IDP OUTLOOK: Designation in your IDP leagues is the key here and as a Bronco, Ware should garner a “Defensive End” designation. In Jack Del Rio’s defense he profiles as a hand in the dirt edge rusher that will be able to balance out the defense and provide ample support in the running game. He will obviously help keep defenses honest but situationally, he will be able to take advantage of the large leads that Peyton Manning provides and pin his ears back on abundant passing situations in tandem with guys like Von Miller, Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson. After his injury plagued 2013 campaign Ware can be had at a modest value but regardless of where he falls in your IDP leagues, he has the potential to perform like a Top-5 DL playing in Denver.
The San Francisco 49ers have signed former Colts’ safety Antoine Bethea to a deal on Tuesday according to ProFootballTalk.com.
The 49ers have reached an agreement on a four-year contract with Bethea that will pay him close to $6 million per year, according to several reports.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee technically broke the news first and Bethea confirmed the move via Twitter.
Glad to be a Niner!! Going to the Bay!!!
— Antoine Bethea (@Tweez41) March 11, 2014
A fundamentally sound football player who is better against the run than hanging with running backs and tight ends in coverage, Bethea has played in two Super Bowls and made two Pro Bowl selections in eight seasons with the Colts.
IDP OUTLOOK: Antoine Bethea will be asked to step in and fill strong safety Donte Whitner’s shoes which should prove to be a good thing for his tackle numbers in 2014. While Bethea is certainly capable of being the answer opposite standout Eric Reid, he isn’t the big-time hitter that Whitner was and is coming off a down year that showed some of his liabilities out in coverage. His re-draft stock is status quo but Bethea will turn 30 before the season starts and while that doesn’t mean his keeper stock is instantly garbage, it does mean the arrow on his dynasty value is no longer pointed up.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reportedly has agreed with free agent defensive end Michael Johnson. The former Bengal was among the top pass-rushers in the league in 2012, when he recorded 11.5 sacks for Cincinnati, but his production tumbled to 3.5 sacks last season.
The contract reportedly calls for Johnson to earn $24 million guaranteed and $43.75 million total on a five-year contract per ESPN’s Josina Anderson.
More specifics: Sources: DE Michael Johnson has agreed to a 5-year, $43.75M deal with 24M guaranteed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 11, 2014
Tampa Bay finished last season with just 35 sacks, ranking No. 23 in the league and adding a pass rusher like Johnson was a clear priority. While Michael Johnson is also a terrific run defender, the Buccaneers will be expecting big sack numbers from him in 2014.
IDP OUTLOOK: Johnson should be allowed to pin his ears back and harass QBs on the regular in Lovie Smith’s cover two scheme. Playing next to all-pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will certainly help, as Johnson should be able to be very effective off the edge with teams unable to double team both he and McCoy. Adrian Clayborn should still factor in the other starter at end but his IDP impact has been knocked down to backup level in redraft leagues, while Johnson could produce like a DL #1 as a Buccaneer.