Joe Lombardi “always looking” for well-rounded tight ends

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While the Saints gear up for what coach Sean Payton thinks will be “tough decisions” regarding re-signing tight end Jimmy Graham, their former quarterbacks coach is in Detroit gearing up for his first year as an offensive coordinator.

Joe Lombardi isn’t expecting to find another Graham in Detroit. He doesn’t really need one, not with Calvin Johnson threatening defenses and drawing attention away from teammates the same way Graham does in New Orleans. Lombardi did reveal a bit about what he’s looking for from the tight end spot, however.

“I think it’s important to have a guy that can block at the point of attack. That’s important,” Lombardi said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “And then you want a guy that can be a pass receiver, so you’re always looking for those well-rounded guys. But again, I’ve never been in the mode of I wanted to find exactly what this player is and then you have to go find him for me. Go find the best player you can.”

One of the first orders of business this offseason is deciding whether Brandon Pettigrew fits that “best player” you can find description. With center Dominic Raiola re-signed, Pettigrew is one of the top Lions set for free agency next month and Detroit has to decide if they want to continue their relationship with a player who has been more effective as a blocker than a receiver over the last couple of seasons.

Assuming Graham doesn’t hit the market, Pettigrew joins Dennis Pitta and Jermichael Finley at the top of the tight end market. Birkett reports that there have been no substantive contract discussions between Pettigrew and the team to this point.