By Ashley Dunkak

ALLEN PARK – Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew does not condemn veteran safety James Ihedigbo for declining to participate in the team’s offseason program as he seeks a new contract after an impressive 2014 season.

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First of all, Mayhew noted, the workouts are voluntary.

“There was a guy who missed last year [Ndamukong Suh], and you guys were irate, and I told you then it was voluntary,” Mayhew said Friday at his pre-draft press conference. “It’s voluntary now.”

Secondly, Mayhew understands how Ihedigbo feels.

“I look forward to talking with James,” Mayhew said. “I understand what he’s going through, I’ve been through that myself as a player, when I felt like at a time in my career that I was underpaid. I had to deal with that, so I have empathy for him, and I understand what he’s going through. I look forward to sitting down and talking with him.

“I have great respect for him as a player, as a man, I’ve gotten to know him a little bit away from football, and I understand how he feels,” Mayhew continued. “I look forward to sitting down and talking to him at some point.”

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Mayhew would not say whether or not the Lions would redo Ihedigbo’s contract.

“I’m not going to get into all that,” Mayhew said, ” but I do look forward to talking to him about his situation.”

The general manager also remained vague about when he would speak with Ihedigbo.

“Whenever I see him,” Mayhew said.

Lions safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, who was a backup to Ihedigbo last season, is set to make a base salary of $1.2 million after re-signing with the Lions as a free agent this offseason. Ihedigbo, a starter last year and a Pro Bowl alternate, will make a base salary of $1.1 million.

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