The New England Patriots have released strong safety James Ihedigbo, in a move that is, in all honesty, addition by subtraction. One of the big areas of need that the Patriots needed to address this offseason was coverage, especially pertaining to the defensive backs. They made a significant upgrade in the offseason by signing former San Diego Chargers safety Steve Gregory.
Ihedigbo was the guy Gregory has presented an upgrade to. While the former New York Jet is a valuable contributor on special teams and can play the run effectively, he is hopelessly bad in coverage. That weakness was apparent in his days with the Jets and in all 16 appearances last season. Ihedigbo isn’t a terrible player, but he doesn’t fill a need for this team and has less upside and coverage ability than rising rookies Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner.
In fact, both safeties might be more skilled right now, although the jury is still out on Ebner. Either way, Ebner is still a better special teams player and made Ihedigbo more expendable as a result. Thankfully so, because it’s tough to stomach watching Ihedigbo repeatedly blow coverage in the worst way possible for two-thirds of the team’s defensive snaps. He just isn’t a fit for the Patriots, but he should be a third safety for a team that lacks a player who can make an impact against the run as a defensive back.
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