GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 01: Brandon Pettigrew #87 of the Detroit Lions drops the ball in the end zone behind A.J. Hawk #50 of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 1, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 45-41. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Free agents: None
UPDATE: Will Heller was released by the Lions on Monday, March 12.
Just like last year, there isn't expected to be a ton of activity at the tight end position this year for the Detroit Lions. The Lions usually keep three tight ends on the roster, and with their top three from last year all set to return, it looks like they will once again move forward with Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler and Will Heller.
Pettigrew had an outstanding season in 2011 and set career-highs across the board. He had 83 catches for 777 yards and five touchdowns. He also appeared and started in all 16 games for the Lions.
Tony Scheffler appeared in 15 games for the Lions in 2011 and finished with only 26 catches for 347 yards. He did have six touchdowns, which was up from only one in 2010. His numbers certainly could be better, but it's important to remember that there is only one ball to go around for all of the weapons the Lions have on offense.
Perhaps the only player at tight end who could conceivably be let go is Heller. I say that only because he isn't used all that much in the offense. He only had six catches for 42 yards last season. Of course, just because he isn't used in the offense a ton doesn't necessarily mean all that much. Heller is a special teams contributor as well, and he did add some fullback to his repertoire in 2011. If the Lions could find a player who can do similar things, perhaps they might let him go, but I personally don't see it. He just seems like the only tight end who isn't 100 percent coming back.
Need going forward?
Like they have the last couple seasons, I expect the Lions to sign an undrafted free agent to compete for a spot at tight end during training camp. The Lions do already have Nathan Overbay, who signed a futures deal, so perhaps they are already set at the position.
Obviously if a talented tight end falls to them sometime during the draft, it wouldn't hurt to select him, but I don't see tight end as a position with much need for additional players this offseason.