LIONS INSIDER

Lions decline to use the franchise tag

Posted Mar 3, 2014

The Lions decide not to use the franchise tag for a second consecutive season

The deadline for teams to use their franchise or transition tag has passed, and for a second consecutive season the Detroit Lions will not use either tag.

The last time the team did use the franchise tag was in 2012 on defensive end Cliff Avril. He played that season on a one-year $10.6 million tag.

Brandon PettigrewTE Brandon Pettigrew (Photo: Gavin Smith)

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew was the most likely candidate on the current roster to receive the designation. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew left open the possibility to use the tag when talking to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine, but it was never a real strong likelyhood with the tag for tight ends worth $7.035 million.

Instead, both the Lions and Pettigrew’s representation will continue to work on a long-term deal.

Pettigrew, 29, has amassed 284 catches, 2,828 yards and 16 touchdowns since the Lions selected him in the first round (No. 20) of the 2009 draft. His best season came back in 2011, when he caught 83 passes for 777 yards.

Pettigrew is one of the more versatile tight ends in the league because he's an above-average blocker.

Mayhew has said signing Pettigrew is a priority this offseason.

“We had our free agent meeting and the coaches liked him, liked what he can do,” Mayhew said. “He’s an all-around guy.”

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has said there’s room for Pettigrew in his offense.

"You want a guy that's a great blocker and a great receiver, obviously," Lombardi said at his introductory press conference when asked about Pettigrew. "Those guys are rare and hard to find, so you give us good players that can do something well, we're going to find a way to use him.”

It’ll be interesting to see what Pettigrew might fetch on the open market if he gets there. Free agency starts March 11, but teams can start negotiating with the agents for free agents starting March 8.

Baltimore’s Dennis Pita, whose game is similar to Pettigrew’s, recently received a five-year, $32 million contract to stay in Baltimore.