As we near free agency, Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn will be looking to add players to the tight ends group.
With limited resources in his first season as Detroit Lions general manager, Bob Quinn had to make decisions on where to improve the roster and where to gamble. With no significant additions in free agency or the draft, Quinn appeared comfortable with the group of tight ends he brought into training camp. With Eric Ebron starting, and Brandon Pettigrew expected to recover from his ACL injury, Quinn filled in the rest of the roster with competition from mid-level role players and undrafted free agents.
When I wrote my preseason roster stack of 90 players, it was clear the Lions were planning on relying of Cole Wick to be a significant contributor. But, there were still questions surrounding their third spot, as Pettigrew was still recovering. By the time my 75-man roster stack came out, there were new players competing for the third spot, as no one seemed capable of locking down that role and Pettigrew remained absent.
When my 53-man roster prediction came out, it had Ebron, Wick and Pettigrew on it, because no other player had performed well enough to earn the third tight end role. I also assumed that because no significant move was made to acquire a player capable of competing at that spot then the Lions must be optimistic about Pettigrew’s recovery time.
It didn’t work out that way. Pettigrew went on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, and the rotating door at the tight end position began. Andrew Quarless went on the suspended list and Orson Charles made the team out of camp. Charles was eventually cut, but not for Quarless as many predicted, instead for Clay Harbor. When Wick ended up on injured reserve, they brought Matthew Mulligan back (he was cut in training camp). Pettigrew eventually was cleared to return from the PUP, but was released instead of being added to the roster.
The position never fully recovered and was a problem all season. It’s clear the tight ends group will be need to addressed this offseason. With several capable free agents and a deep draft class, Bob Quinn will have plenty of ways to make that happen.