Detroit Lions: Matt Patricia gushes over his new tight end
The Detroit Lions desperately needed to upgrade their tight end position. And they did just that with the signing of Jesse James via free agency.
Last offseason, the Detroit Lions finally decided to part ways with former first-round bust Eric Ebron. The inconsistent tight end would go on to post a Pro Bowl season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2018. And after failed attempts to acquired some big-name tight ends, including the New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski, the Lions were forced to field a tight-end-by-committee last year.
The tight end trio of Luke Willson, Levine Toilolo and Michael Roberts combined to record a total of 43 catches for 450 yards and four touchdowns. Both Willson and Toilolo have not re-signed this offseason as the team was looking to go in a different direction.
And that direction ended up being former Pittsburgh Steelers’ tight end Jesse James. The Lions signed the 24-year old to a four-year, $25 million contract with $11 million guaranteed. James was a 2015 fifth-round selection out of Penn State. Despite his age, the young tight end has four years of NFL experience under his belt already.
James was consistent and reliable in Pittsburgh. Last year, he posted 30 receptions for 423 yards and two scores. But James was only targeted 39 times, making his catch percentage an impressive 76.9. The pass-heavy Steelers actually targeted their top two wide receivers a whopping 334 times, limiting opportunities for others in the passing game.
In Detroit, James will have an opportunity to blossom. With a massive 6-foot-7, 261-pound frame, he figures to be a huge target for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Here’s what Patricia told DetroitLions.com about his new yet very familiar tight end.
"“[James is] a young player. Works really hard. He’s tough. I played against him for a lot of years. Love his grit, love his grind and love the way he kind of attacks the game. We know he can do things in the run game. The beauty about it is he’s a big target. This guy has a big catch radius. He’s long and he can catch the ball.”"
Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions are clearly excited by the potential of their new tight end. And the fact Jesse James is still so young and also so experienced likely means his best seasons are ahead of him.