On Friday morning, the Detroit Lions re-signed starting tight end Brandon Pettigrew to a four-year deal worth $16 million with $8 million guaranteed. While Pettigrew’s numbers have decreased in recent years, Detroit was smart to bring him back.
Pettigrew was originally drafted No. 20 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft by Detroit, the same year they picked up quarterback Matthew Stafford. After a slow rookie year in which he played in 11 games, Pettigrew played in all 33 possible games in 2010 and 2011. Combined, he caught 154 passes for 1,499 yards and nine touchdowns. In 2012 and 2013, his numbers declined significantly.
Pettigrew has missed four games over the last two seasons and, especially in 2013, we’ve seen his numbers suffer. Last season, he was targeted just 64 times (compared to 100 times in 2012) and had just 41 receptions (down 18 from the year before). Pettigrew caught just two touchdowns and converted just 19 first downs, the lowest totals since his rookie season.
However, Pettigrew’s lack of productivity can be attributed to a change in roles. Now that the Lions have discovered a rushing attack in Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, Pettigrew has become more of a blocking tight end rather than a route-running one. At 6-foot-5 and 265-pounds, Pettigrew is a good sized player who you want to have on the end of the line blocking.
When you look at who was left on the market, you can see that the Lions got the best available free agent tight end. The most notable ones left on the market are Owen Daniels, Kellen Davis and Fred Davis. The only one who really compares to Pettigrew in terms of ability is Fred Davis, but he’s had his fair share of off field issues and should be left alone.
Seeing as how Joseph Fauria and Michael Williams, Detroit’s other two tight ends, have no more than two years of experience each, re-signing the veteran was necessary. Pettigrew has been in the city, in the system and with Stafford for five seasons now. He’s a veteran Detroit can trust to play his role and they don’t have to worry about inexperience at the tight end position.
The Lions return a veteran role player who does his job well. They got the best available tight end and for a good price. At just $8 million guaranteed, Pettigrew is a steal. Nice signing by Detroit.