DETROIT (AP) — The Lions re-signed tight end Brandon Pettigrew on Friday, keeping one of Matthew Stafford's top targets and a player who can potentially make defenses regret focusing too much on Calvin Johnson.
"The key is to be able to keep your good players," new Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. "And, I think anytime you can do that in an organization, it's great. It doesn't always work out for you, but when you can, and a guy's been productive for you, I think it's huge."
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 terms were not announced.
"Obviously, this is certainly a long-term commitment from both sides and we're certainly looking forward to that," Caldwell said.
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, with a solid offensive line, 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.
"He gives you a guy that really is a dual threat in terms of being able to handle the end-line blocking on the line of scrimmage, which he does very well," Caldwell said. "Also, obviously, he's a threat in the passing game. When you look at what's going to happen in most cases with the guys that we have on the outside, our inside receivers are going to certainly become a bigger part of our game."