NFC North: Matt Veldman

The NFL released its performance-based pay list Monday, where every team is to allocate $3.46 million amongst its players for things they have accomplished during the season.

Here is the full pdf.

When it came to Detroit, the Lions gave the most money to rookie right guard Larry Warford, who earned an extra $260,630.09 for his standout first season with the Lions.

His rookie linemate, LaAdrian Waddle, picked up an extra $181,182, behind only Warford, receiver Kris Durham ($220,174.55) and cornerback Rashean Mathis ($188,695). The common thread with all the players is that they were reliable starters for Detroit by the end of the season.

Most players received some sort of payout, and here are the bottom five: Quarterback Shaun Hill ($76.90); tight end Matt Veldman ($309.09); guard Leroy Harris ($400.28); fullback Montell Owens ($641.50); tackle Barry Richardson ($875.40).

Hill shouldn't go spending that money just yet, though. The players will receive this money on April 1, 2016.

The Detroit Lions are bringing back Brandon Pettigrew and this ensures one thing in Detroit: While the team will have an offense that might look schematically like the New Orleans Saints' offense, this guarantees it won’t be Saints-like.

At least not in the same construct of what New Orleans likes to do.

Pettigrew is not a Jimmy Graham-like tight end. He won’t stretch the field. He won’t create an obvious mismatch against anyone who lines up against him. Though Detroit had said he was a priority free agent throughout the offseason, he is a different type of tight end than Graham.

He is more of a dual-threat tight end, as much of a blocker as a pass-catcher. He was integral in Detroit’s running game as a player who can line up on the line of scrimmage as well as in the slot and even outside. His versatility and flexibility has been one of the more attractive things about him.

He will not, though, break a defense.

In his five seasons in Detroit, his longest-ever reception has been 35 yards. In 2010. He has had only four games in which he had a reception of 30 yards or more, and only one of them came after the 2010 season. Last season he had fewer yards (416) than any season but his rookie year, and also fewer drops (four) than any season in his career. His two touchdowns were his fewest since his rookie year.

He also had declining receptions the past two seasons after an 87-catch, 826-yard season in 2011.

While Pettigrew is still productive and still young enough at age 29, part of the reason Detroit might have brought him back is the lack of experience at the position otherwise. If the team had not kept Pettigrew, the only tight ends on the roster would have been Joseph Fauria, Michael Williams and Matt Veldman. Fauria and Williams were rookies last season, and of the three, only Fauria had any extended playing time or even caught a pass.

Williams spent last season on injured reserve and Veldman was signed for the last game of the season from the practice squad.

With a thin tight end market, there were not going to be any options better than Pettigrew available for Detroit to sign as a veteran. Owen Daniels, Jermichael Finley and Dustin Keller all could have been intriguing options, but they have significant injury histories that made them more of a risk than Pettigrew, who the team drafted in 2009. And Pettigrew has developed a rapport with quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Pettigrew’s signing also probably means the team might avoid taking a tight end early in May’s draft, although depending on how the Lions really feel about Fauria and Williams, it might not completely preclude them from doing so.

But this was the safe signing for Detroit. He was the player the team knew and the one the front office was the most familiar with. With little other options out there, it was also the one that ended up making the most sense.

Even if he can’t do some of the things the team might want him to be able to in the offense.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- There is no way the Detroit Lions would do this, no matter the public front it might show. There’s just no possible way the Lions would possibly risk their franchise player, Calvin Johnson, on Sunday.


Detroit coach Jim Schwartz continues to play coy about Johnson’s availability for the season finale against Minnesota, saying it will be a decision that could go until Sunday before the game. Johnson, as he usually does, declined to answer many questions about his status other than it is a two-way decision and that he’ll see how he progresses throughout the week.
That the Lions are contemplating playing Johnson this weekend makes absolutely no sense. There's nothing on the line but pride and Johnson is ailing at best and outright hurt at worst.

None at all.

Johnson won’t confirm or deny the extent of his knee injury or if he’ll have to have surgery on it after the season. He won’t even say what, exactly, is wrong with his knee. We know he has missed a ton of practice time this season, missed one game and was limited in two others.

That alone is enough to sit the best player the Lions have, the player whom your entire offense flows through. He was limited last Sunday in what was essentially an elimination game against the New York Giants, and that should tell you everything you need to know about Johnson’s health.

Or lack thereof.

Don’t push him to play. If he says he wants to play, sit him down and tell him it is in the best interest of his future and the franchise’s future that he sit out.

The first priority should be Johnson’s health and that is the first -- and most important -- reason he should sit.

One of the most obvious things about Detroit this season is its ineffectiveness without Johnson in the lineup. The Lions, whether or not Schwartz is around a week from now or a season from now, can use Sunday to figure out other wide receiver plans.

How does free agent-to-be Kevin Ogletree look with a full complement of game day snaps? Can Nate Burleson still play on the outside if need be? Could tight end Joseph Fauria line up outside? What about new-to-the-53-man-roster Matt Veldman, who will play his first NFL game Sunday? Is Jeremy Ross a potential weapon as a receiver as well as a returner?

A lot of these things can be accomplished by not playing Johnson on Sunday. If Detroit plays him, at best the Lions will get a decent, but likely limited, effort from him. At worst, he could injure himself further.

And that’s something no one around the Lions should even want to think about.
Good morning and ROOOOAAARRRR!!!!

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Matt Veldman was back in his college town of Fargo, N.D., adjusting to life after being cut from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and starting to plan for where he might spend the rest of the season. He had learned in his two years as a professional football player not to anticipate anything, but that he might be asked to sign a futures contract near the end of the season.

Then Brandon Pettigrew got hurt, Detroit needed a tight end and the Lions signed Veldman to their practice squad after moving Patrick Edwards to the practice squad/injured reserve. Veldman had previously been with Detroit in training camp.

"I got the call [Wednesday] and I was in Fargo and I flew out here [Wednesday] night," Veldman said. "Fargo has a lot of flights to Chicago, then Chicago to Detroit and back."

After he was released by the Buccaneers, Veldman shipped his car back to his home and Minnesota and went to North Dakota. His time away from the game lasted a week before he found a new home, potentially for the rest of the season.

And now, a look around the Interwebs in search of Lions news:

Lions roster at a glance

August, 27, 2013
We noted earlier Tuesday that the Detroit Lions released place-kicker Havard Rugland. As it turns out, Rugland was the highest-profile name involved in the Lions' push to a 75-man roster.

The three other players released Tuesday were: receiver Terrence Austin, cornerback DeQuan Menzie, tight end Cameron Morrah and tight end Matt Veldman.

Each NFL team must reduce its roster to 53 players by Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. Here is a numerical look at the Lions' roster by position, based on how they are listed on the team's web site:
  • Centers: 2
  • Cornerbacks: 7
  • Defensive ends: 5
  • Defensive tackles: 8
  • Fullbacks: 1
  • Guards: 6
  • Place-kicker: 1
  • Linebackers: 9
  • Long-snapper: 1
  • Punters: 2
  • Quarterbacks: 3
  • Running backs: 6
  • Safeties: 7
  • Tackles: 5
  • Tight ends: 4
  • Wide receivers: 8
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Former Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice has resurfaced publicly for the first time since the team overhauled its coaching staff, agreeing to interviews with both the Chicago Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press. He told both outlets that he plans to return to coaching in 2014 but will be sitting out this season while living in his Seattle home.

Tice denied reports that he and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler didn't get along and described his one year-stint as the Bears' offensive coordinator this way: "Sometimes in life, we find ourselves trying to get along and trying to please as opposed to being who we really are.''

The Bears fired Tice when he was under contract, meaning he will receive his regular salary from them this season.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Here are some key dates for the Bears from Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune spoke to Minnesota Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer about his plans for Cordarrelle Patterson and Joe Webb.
  • As they plan to bring in linebacker Desmond Bishop for a visit, the Vikings have once again proved that their actions are more valuable than their message. Judd Zulgad of explains.
  • Bishop on his release by the Green Bay Packers, via Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "I would be lying if I said I wasn't surprised, but at the same time, I knew it was a definite possibility. I'm fully healthy right now, but I think my injury was part of the reason. If I didn't get hurt, maybe we wouldn’t even be having this conversation right now. You have to add the injury into the equation, but I don't think that was the main deciding factor."
  • Bishop's goal is still to be the NFL's defensive MVP, writes Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • Jason Wilde of has a long Q&A with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Among Rodgers' answers were a reaffirmation of his support for friend Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers outfield who continues to be hounded by implications that he has used performance-enhancing drugs. Rodgers: "Ryan’s a good friend and I care about him a lot as a person. He’s a great person, and I stand with my friend."
  • Detroit Lions defensive back Don Carey is approaching 2013 as if he is a starter, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
  • The Lions signed tight end Matt Veldman and released Dominique Curry, notes the Detroit News.
  • Lions rookie Ziggy Ansah got a bit emotional when he walked out of the tunnel at Ford Field as part of a tour Monday. Birkett has more in the Free Press.