Safety James Ihedigbo visits Lions, expects to sign

James Ihedigbo is coming off a career-best season with the Baltimore Ravens.

Mark Zerof/Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The top free-agent safeties — Jairus Byrd and T. J Ward — were expensive and signed elsewhere.

So the Detroit Lions are considering their next-best options to fill a major hole.

James Ihedigbo, 30, visited the Lions’ headquarters Thursday to discuss a possible deal that could make him the replacement in the secondary for Louis Delmas, who was released last month.

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Ihedigbo left the facility without having signed a contract, but he indicated that a deal is close and that he expects to join the Lions.

"That’s the plan in hand," he told the Detroit News on his way out of the building.

Ihedigbo (6-foot-1, 214 pounds) is coming off a career-best season with the Baltimore Ravens when he was second on the team with 101 tackles and also had three interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Ihedigo has strong connections to the Lions’ new coaching staff.

Teryl Austin, Detroit’s defensive coordinator, was his secondary coach the last two years in Baltimore while Jim Caldwell was the Ravens’ offensive coordinator before taking over as the Lions’ coach.

Miami’s Chris Clemons also has been considered a possible free-agent target to fill the Lions’ void at safety.