Stephen Tulloch announced on his Instagram account that his days with the Detroit Lions are over. Tulloch was set to enter the final year of his contract.
It was widely speculated that 2015 would be Stephen Tulloch‘s last season with the Detroit Lions but it appears that is now official. Dave Birkett reports that Tulloch has been informed he will be released when the new league year begins. Tulloch made a post to his Instagram account tonight that reads as a goodbye to the city and team.
"What a journey it’s been Detroit! Five years of some of the greatest memories of my career. I can’t put into words how grateful I am to have played for such a great organization. I want thank the Ford family the front office the strength coaches, trainers, equipment staff and everybody in between for everything you have done for me over the years. Last but not least I want to thank the community of Detroit for being behind me and my foundation over the years in making a difference in many lives. Such as life there is constant change. But change that I’m looking forward to. As one chapter closes in my career another one opens up."
The end of Tulloch’s tenure in the middle of the Lions’ defense does not come as a surprise. Coming off an ACL injury suffered in 2014, Tulloch came back healthy but started to show his age in pass coverage. While he had a good season against the run, he was often on the sideline for passing downs rather than playing as the every-down linebacker he had been known as for the earlier years of his career.
The declining performance made his $7.3 million cap number hard to justify. Releasing Tulloch will save the Lions $6 million towards the 2016 salary cap as they avoid his $5.5 million salary and $500,000 roster bonus that would have been paid next month.
The Lions now have another starting spot to fill in their defense. Josh Bynes is under contract for 2016 and could be an option to take over in the middle full time or they could look to re-sign Tahir Whitehead for that role. Whitehead performed well filling in for Tulloch in 2014 and has indicated a desire to play middle linebacker going forward.
If the Lions want to go even younger, the draft will be an option. Namely, Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland, already a fan favorite who is the consensus top inside linebacker in the 2016 NFL Draft and a definite target in the range the Lions will be drafting.