The Detroit Lions are still getting a new coaching staff together, but general manager Martin Mayhew won't rule out the possibility of using the franchise tag on tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the offseason.
Pettigrew is an impending free agent, but has been a disappointment the past two years. He finished his 2013 season with just 41 catches for 416 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games before being placed on injured reserve with a sprained ankle. The tight end franchise tender projects to be about $6.7 million this year. That's a high number for the Lions, who are already over the salary cap and have some roster crunching to do to get under the number. They have only four players scheduled to hit free agency.
It's possible that the Lions let Pettigrew test the open market before placing the tag on him, but it will be a competitive market. Jimmy Graham is the biggest name in free agency, although he's expected to be tagged by the Saints if they can't agree to a long-term deal. Other names include Dustin Keller, Scott Chandler, Dennis Pitta and Jermichael Finley. Pettigrew turns 29 in February and is unlikely to find a big payday with his declining numbers. The situation is still in flux until new coach Jim Caldwell gets his staff in place and evaluates the roster in depth.