Season was a professionally 'humbling' one for James Ihedigbo

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- It was a season James Ihedigbo couldn't get used to. His team was losing. He was benched. And it left him calling the entire 2015 Detroit Lions season a "humbling" one.

"It's humbling personally and as a team," Ihedigbo said recently. "You look at our team in general, we went from being a playoff team to starting off 1-7, that's a humbling experience. Then me personally, I went from being on pace for 100 tackles this season to spot play. So it's humbling.

"You have to sit there and say, hey, I've got to put my pride aside and say it's about winning ballgames. It's about coaches trying to do whatever they can for the benefit of the team. That's what I mean by humbling."

Ihedigbo did that at midseason, when the Lions replaced him at strong safety with Isa Abdul-Quddus. The Lions also rallied in the second half of the season, going 6-2 to finish 7-9. After playing 400 snaps the first half of the season, missing one game because to injury, he played only 173 in the second half.

Most of those came when either Abdul-Quddus or free safety Glover Quin left games with injury.

After playing over 700 snaps in three of the past four seasons between New England, Baltimore and Detroit, this was not something with which the 32-year-old plans on being comfortable.

"I don't think you ever get used to it. You never get used to it," Ihedigbo said. "It would be a problem if I did get used to it. I'd be losing my competitive edge if I got used to it. I know what type of player I am. I know what I can bring to a team and I know what type of presence I have on the field.

"When you're not out there, of course, you don't get used to it. At the same time, you have to respect it and say, 'Hey, if this is what you guys want to do, this is what you want to do and I'll always be ready.'"

Now, Ihedigbo might have to be ready for something else. He becomes a free agent when the new league year starts in March. How the franchise feels about him is unknown. The Lions hired Bob Quinn as general manager last week and Jim Caldwell's future is unknown.

Ihedigbo had one of the best seasons of his career with the Lions in 2014, making 71 tackles with four interceptions and being named a Pro Bowl alternate. This season, he had 62 tackles -- 46 in the first half of the season -- and one interception.

He feels like he can still play at a high level and believes he "without a doubt" can still be a starter in the NFL despite being replaced by Detroit at midseason.

"I'd love to come back here because of the relationship I have with the coaching staff and the relationship I have with the guys in the room and the leader that I am in this locker room," Ihedigbo said. "But at the same time, you never know.

"Come March, I'll be available to all 32 teams and me and my family will pick what's the best fit for us."