- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. – James Ihedigbo is back with the Detroit Lions, and while he missed the first part of voluntary workouts in an attempt to try and get a new contract, the safety did not want to say much about it Wednesday.
“I can’t talk about my contract situation. I’m not going to,” Ihedigbo said. “I hope you guys respect that. I think the most important thing is that I’m here and I continue to say that because it is important that I’m here in terms of being a mentor to these young guys and in terms of being a leader on this team.”
This was a role Ihedigbo took on last season, when he signed a two-year deal with Detroit during free agency. He turned in one of the top seasons of his career playing alongside Glover Quin. Ihedigbo posted 71 tackles, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and two sacks on one of the top defenses in the NFL.
His performance led him to believe he should try to get either a new contract or a reworked one from the Lions. He is due to make $1.1 million in base salary in 2015.
“I was a Pro Bowl alternate, so that answers that question,” Ihedigbo said. “I’m probably three games away from being alongside Glover in the Pro Bowl, but that’s neither here nor there. My focus is on this season coming up and I’ll be working on that field to make sure I can help in our team taking that next step and individually taking that next step.”
To do that, he had to be here – something he understood when he made the decision to show up for the start of the OTA period. Ihedigbo wouldn’t say when he made the decision to come to the voluntary OTA workouts, only that it was important he was in Allen Park, Michigan, to be with his teammates.
The Lions publicly made it clear they wanted Ihedigbo to return as soon as possible, with the reserved Jim Caldwell even saying he wanted him back “pronto” earlier this offseason.
“Pronto” turned into the end of May and Ihedigbo immediately slid back into his role as starting strong safety alongside Quin.
“I think it’s always good to get all of our guys back,” Caldwell said. “I think that’s important.”