Lions keep TE Pettigrew after he tests market

By LARRY LAGE - AP Sports Writer
    2014-03-14 12:24

DETROIT (AP) - The Lions have re-signed tight end Brandon Pettigrew, keeping one of Matthew Stafford's top targets and a player who can potentially make defenses regret focusing too much on Calvin Johnson.

Pettigrew will get a $16 million, four-year contract with half of the money guaranteed, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke Friday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.

The Lions drafted Pettigrew with the 20th overall pick in 2009, the same year they selected Stafford first overall in the NFL draft. The native of Tyler, Texas, has 284 receptions for 2,828 yards and 16 touchdowns in five NFL seasons.

Pettigrew said part of the reason he wanted to stay was because he's in ''a groove,'' with teammates such as Stafford.

''We got drafted together,'' he said. ''We've already got that going, and I think that's important. I love the city. I'm grateful for being able to be here. The city is going through change, as is the organization. It's just an honor to be a part of that.''

He tested the market as a free agent before deciding to stay in Detroit.

''Of course, the pursuits were real because that's just part of the business,'' Pettigrew said.

The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Pettigrew is yet another weapon for Stafford, who already has Johnson and will now have receiver Golden Tate next season. Detroit should be able to strike a balance in the running game with Reggie Bush in his second season paired with Joique Bell, who was re-signed with a $9.3 million, three-year deal earlier this week.

Pettigrew is coming off a relatively disappointing season, which probably cost him some money on the market.

He had 41 receptions for 416 yards and two TDs, his lowest numbers in each category since he was a rookie. When Pettigrew was at his best in 2001, he caught 83 passes for 777 yards and five TDs - all career highs - and helped the franchise end an 11-year postseason skid.

Pettigrew said he spoke to some members of team's new staff, including first-year coach Jim Caldwell.

''He's already told me he wants me to step up and be in that role of a leader and coming out to accept that,'' Pettigrew said. ''I've been here long enough, and I agree with him. He seems like a great guy. So, I'm looking forward to getting back.''


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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