The Detroit Lions have struggled to find good tight end help since Tim Wright tore his ACL this offseason and Brandon Pettigrew was placed on the PUP list because of his own torn ACL tear he suffered in December. The Lions have cycled through Andrew Quarless, Khari Lee, Cole Wick and Orson Charles as the primary backup to Eric Ebron and have not settled on one player yet.
Therefore, it’s not too big of a surprise that the Lions have picked up another tight end to supplement their roster. According to Adam Caplan of ESPN, the Lions have signed tight end Clay Harbor. The Lions didn’t have an open spot on the roster, so there will have to be some corresponding move that has not been announced by the team nor reported by an insider. (Update: Charles has been released, see below).
Harbor was released by the Patriots on Monday after playing just three games with New England this year, mostly as a special teams player. Prior to his time with the Patriots, Harbor spent three years in Philadelphia and three years with the Jaguars. In his six year career, Harbor has totaled 1,151 yards with eight touchdowns.
This move likely means that the Lions are parting ways with a tight end already on the roster. The most likely candidate seems to be Charles, since he has yet to play any offensive snaps and has strictly been a special teams player. Harbor has both special teams and receiving value, so the Lions may just prefer to have him as depth. This could also be a precautionary move if Ebron is significantly injured. Ebron was able to finish the game on Sunday, but he has been battling knee and ankle injuries over the past two weeks.
UPDATE: Dave Birkett confirms that indeed it was Charles who was released to make room for Harbor:
The Lions released TE Orson Charles to make room for Clay Harbor.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) October 4, 2016