As we start to look ahead to training camp, we're going to take a position-by-position look at the Detroit Lions roster. Next up is the tight end position. (The final year of each player's contract is listed in parentheses.)
Back from last season: Brandon Pettigrew (2017), Joseph Fauria (2015)
New to the team: Eric Ebron (2017 + team option for 2018), Jordan Thompson (2016), Jacob Maxwell (2016)
This has been a pretty interesting offseason for the Lions' tight end corps. At one point, it looked like Brandon Pettigrew might leave for a new team after he became a free agent, but he decided to stay in Detroit by signing a four-year deal worth $16 million. Pettigrew has been the Lions' starting tight end since 2009, and it looks like he will continue to play a major role in their offense going forward.
The Lions didn't just re-sign Pettigrew, though. In May, they decided to bolster their talent and depth at tight end by drafting Eric Ebron in the first round. Ebron and Pettigrew are different kinds of tight ends -- Ebron will likely line up as a wide receiver more often than not -- but the point is that they added even more help at the position.
The Lions also still have Joseph Fauria, who had 7 touchdowns last season as an undrafted rookie. At one point this offseason, it looked like Fauria was poised for a much bigger role in the Lions offense, but now it seems that he may once again just be a red-zone weapon. That's a bit disappointing, but he is definitely a nice target to have in the red zone.
The Lions' other two tight ends are Jordan Thompson and Jacob Maxwell. They both figure to be camp bodies and nothing more, although I suppose that could change if anybody in the top three gets hurt.
Need going forward?
Barring an injury, this position is good to go. Pettigrew will serve as the more traditional tight end who can block, Ebron will be the hybrid tight end who lines up out wide and in the slot and Fauria will back up both players and get work in red-zone situations.
The Lions actually had so much depth at this position that they moved Michael Williams from tight end to offensive tackle after the draft, so that pretty much sums up the situation at tight end. Detroit has a nice combination of players at this position.