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Detroit Lions Free Agency Preview: Tight End Market Doesn’t Offer Depth or Many Difference Makers

March 6th, 2014 at 10:58 AM
By Max DeMara

Football's free agency period opens in a week on March 11. Until then, we're breaking down the players and positions that the Detroit Lions could target.

Outside of Jimmy Graham, the free agent market for tight ends figures to be extremely narrow. For a team like the Detroit Lions that could be in need, that's not fantastic news. Brandon Pettigrew, the team's own player at the position, could be at the top of the pecking order.

'Dallas Clark' photo (c) 2010, Jeffrey Beall - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Should Pettigrew not come to an agreement, there are a solid mix of veterans which could step in and play a role for a team in need of a second tight end. Who are some of those players? The list isn't long, but here's some ideas.

The Top Five

1. Ed Dickson, Baltimore. If there's anyone Jim Caldwell should know well on the list, it's Dickson, who he coached with the Ravens the last few years. With Dennis Pitta back in the fold, Dickson could bolt for greener pastures and a bigger role. He's caught seven touchdowns in the league, but could be on pace for even more in a new system. Might that place be Detroit? He could fit in well in a tandem role with Joseph Fauria.

2  Scott Chandler, Buffalo. Perhaps the best kept secret on the market, Chandler is capable of dominating games, but he's also capable of disappearing, which is why many are frustrated and confused by the 29 year-old. Still, Chandler could be a major value and develop into one of the league's next top tight ends. Depending on cost, Detroit could make him a target.

3. Dustin Keller, Miami. A few years ago, Keller had a solid season as the top target of Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets. He didn't find nearly as much success or comfort after he bolted for Miami, and is on the market again, attempting to find a comfortable fit. In Detroit's offense, Keller could produce solid results. He hasn't had consistent quarterbacking much in his career, so Matthew Stafford could be the guy to help his talent rise to the surface.

4. Andrew Quarless, Green Bay. In a secondary role to Jermichael Finley, Quarless has been quietly productive, and might actually become a major value. He put up 312 yards and scored two touchdowns last season, and that solid production could get him a look on the market. The Lions should know what he's capable of given that they compete against Quarless twice a year, so expect them to kick the tires a bit.

5. Bear Pascoe, New York Giants. The Lions have been rumored to be in the mix for a fullback for their offense, and the versatile Pascoe can play that position as well as flash at tight end. Adding him could be a good way for Detroit to kill two birds with one stone on offense. A player like Pascoe could allow Joseph Fauria to have a bigger role while also becoming involved in the offense.

Don't Sleep On…

Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit. The Lions are still negotiating with Pettigrew, so a reunion can't be ruled out yet, even if Pettigrew hits free agency next week. He might prove to want too much money for his up and down production, but if Pettigrew likes the team and is motivated to stay, it's a good possibility Detroit brings him back and simplt keeps one of their own.

Dallas Clark, Baltimore. Clark has a long history with Caldwell that dates back to his days in Indianapolis and includes his addition last year to the Ravens. Though he's getting long in the tooth, might the Lions take a flier on Clark, draft a tight end and use Fauria as well? If cost becomes prohibitive, it could be an interesting option to watch for Detroit. Connections mean plenty in the NFL, so don't forget about the most obvious one at the position in the market.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101

Tags: Brandon Pettigrew, Dallas Clark, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Dustin Keller, Ed Dickson, Football, Jimmy Graham, NFL, Scott Chandler

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