Out of all the Detroit Lions' unrestricted free agents, tight end Brandon Pettigrew seems to be the one the team wants back the most. They almost certainly want to re-sign defensive end Willie Young as well, but Lions general manager Martin Mayhew made it known on Friday that he wants to get Pettigrew back under contract.
Mayhew said he plans to talk to Pettigrew's agent down here and wants to sign him back.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) February 21, 2014
Actually, Dave Birkett reports that Mayhew didn't close the door on the possibility of the Lions using the franchise tag, although that seems extremely, extremely unlikely. Based on the new salary cap projection of $130 million, the franchise tag for tight ends is expected to be $6.894 million, according to Joel Corry. That would be a bargain for a player like Jimmy Graham, but that would be overpaying for a player like Pettigrew, especially since the Lions only have around $8 million in cap space right now anyway.
Personally, I don't see why the Lions are so high on Pettigrew, but then again, I had similar feelings when they re-signed DeAndre Levy over Justin Durant at this time a year ago. Levy went on to have a career-best season in 2013, so perhaps the Lions feel like Pettigrew is on the verge of really taking his play to another level, especially with Joe Lombardi and company taking over the offense. From that perspective, I guess it makes sense to prioritize re-signing Pettigrew.