The dissection of the Lions roster plods along with Part 5 of 53. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew is the subject and a former 1st round pick in 2009 of Detroit with the 20th overall selection by Martin Mayhew. The 6’5 278 pound tight end was signed to a 4 year deal before the 2014 season with cap hits of 2.2 million, 3.8 million, 4.65 million (2016) and 5.35 million (2017). Pettigrew is the Lions number two tight end but tore his ACL late in the 2015 season. This is the second time Pettigrew has torn his ACL (2009) and he might not be available in training camp or early in the 2016 season. He is 31 years old which may slow down his recovery time.
Pettigrew started out as a good receiving tight end from 2009-2012 on his rookie deal. He caught 63% and 65% of his targets in 2010 and 2011 and had 722 and 777 yards with 4 and 5 TDs respectively. Pettigrew continued with 100 targets in 2012 but only 59% completion with lower YPC and only 3 TDs.
Pettigrew started to be phased out in the passing game in 2013 but was efficient on his 64 targets (64% completion). Upon the arrival of Caldwell, Joe Lombardi and Eric Ebron, Pettigrew was almost completely phased out in the passing game in 2014 and 2015 with only 15 targets each season. He is now considered a blocking tight end but still does have a receiving skillset. Pettigrew was limited to 8 games in 2015 due to injury. We’ll see how much he has left in 2016 after recovering from this second ACL injury.
Pettigrew is a solid blocking tight end. He is better in pass protection but has had to do more in the run game due to the struggles of the Lions right tackles. He can still be an asset to the Lions run game in 2016 if he is healthy.
Pettigrew started out as a productive tight end for the Lions. The changes in coaches and injuries have reduced him to a blocking role. He still has enough of a receiving skillset to make some plays but that is not his main role anymore for Detroit. At his current cap number, he is overpaid in year 3 of his deal but the Lions have the cap room for one more year of his blocking services in 2016. The recovery of his knee will be the key for 2016 for the Lions to get any benefit from him as the second tight end. It is a big unknown if he has anything left as a receiver for 2016 if Eric Ebron were injured.