The Detroit Lions and Brandon Pettigrew reached an agreement on a four-year contract to keep the tight end with the franchise after he briefly tested the free-agent waters.
Tim Twentyman of the team's official site reported the deal is expected to check in at $16 million and locks up Pettigrew through the 2017 season:
The Detroit Lions have said all along they value free agent tight end Brandon Pettigrew and want him to be part of their future plans.
The team proved that wasn’t just lip service Friday morning by agreeing to terms with Pettigrew to a new 4-year contract worth a reported $16 million.
Ravens insider Aaron Wilson broke down the financial specifics:
Brandon Pettigrew deal: four years, $16 million, $8 million guaranteed, $4 million bonus; salaries $1.25 million, $2.8M, $3.65M, $4.35M— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) March 14, 2014
The Lions showed Pettigrew signing his new deal via Twitter:
TE Brandon Pettigrew makes it official! Signs new four-year deal. pic.twitter.com/phBeAd8GA7— Detroit Lions (@DetroitLionsNFL) March 14, 2014
Twentyman also provided Pettigrew's thoughts on the Lions:
Pettigrew: "I think these guys want to open up the game a little bit more and spread the ball out and try to get the TEs the ball."— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 14, 2014
Pettigrew: "I love the city. I'm grateful for being able to be here. The city is going through changes as is the organization."— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 14, 2014
Pettigrew told me the pursuits from other teams was very real and that's a part of free agency. But in the end felt more comfortable here.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 14, 2014
However, the tight end declined a full interview with the press after his deal was signed, according to Chris McCosky of DetroitNews.com:
Word is Pettigrew didn't want to talk to media because he didn't know the coaching staff and didn't want to field questions about them. ???— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) March 14, 2014
Twentyman also passed along comments from new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi about the importance of a versatile tight end; the Lions clearly think the Oklahoma State product fits the bill:
I think it's important to have a guy that can block the point of attack. Then you want a guy that can be a pass receiver, so you're always looking for those well-rounded guys.
What do you think of bringing Pettigrew back?
Pettigrew has appeared in 71 games across his first five seasons with the Lions since his selection in the first round of the 2009 draft. He's racked up 284 catches for over 2,800 yards and 16 touchdowns during that span.
Last season, the 29-year-old tight end finished with 41 grabs for 416 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His number of targets dropped to 64 after three straight years with at least 100 due to the heavy involvement of the team's running backs in the short passing game.
He was still a valuable member of the offense, though. He was a big target over the middle who moved the chains and was willing to fill whatever role the team needed.
His blocking has dropped off in recent years, however, as noted by Pete Damilatis of Pro Football Focus:
Seen a lot of praise for Brandon Pettigrew's blocking, but it hasn't been a strength of his in some time: pic.twitter.com/DfjhwCUvyU— Pete Damilatis (@PFF_Pete) March 14, 2014
The Lions had to fend off interest from other teams to get him back into the fold. The New York Jets were one team that was intrigued, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN:
The Jets still hope to land TE Brandon Pettigrew. Was one of their first calls in free agency. Envision him as complement to Cumberland.— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) March 13, 2014
Detroit's offense is setting up to have most of the same playmakers back next season. That should lead to a similar role in the offense for Pettigrew, which must have been a more attractive option for him than what other teams were envisioning.
If there's one thing that could change, it's the number of looks he gets in the red zone. He's never had more than five touchdowns in a season, which is a surprise considering his 6'5" frame. Looking his way more frequently deep in opponent territory should help open some space for Calvin Johnson.
In the end, Pettigrew and the Lions are a good match, so reuniting doesn't come as a surprise.