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Where the Lions roster stands: Linebacker

A breakdown of the Detroit Lions' linebackers and what needs they may have at the position.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As a precursor to free agency and the NFL Draft, we are going to take a look at each position on the Detroit Lions roster. We continue the series with a look at the Lions' linebackers.

Under contract: DeAndre Levy (2015), Stephen Tulloch (2016), Tahir Whitehead (2015), Kyle Van Noy (2017), Julian Stanford (2015), Travis Lewis (2015), Jerrell Harris (2016)

Free agents: Josh Bynes (RFA), Ashlee Palmer (UFA)

Linebacker is really the opposite of defensive tackle from a free agency standpoint. At defensive tackle, the entire two-deep is headed for free agency. At linebacker, however, the Lions have all of their starters under contract, as well as most of their key backups.

At the top of the depth chart is the trio of DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch and Tahir Whitehead. Levy is one of the top 4-3 outside linebackers in the NFL, and he was outstanding as the Lions' weakside linebacker last season. Whitehead was also quite good for the Lions, first at strongside linebacker and later in the middle after Tulloch tore his ACL. This year, Tulloch should be back as the starting middle linebacker.

The Lions also have Kyle Van Noy, Julian Stanford, Travis Lewis and Jerrell Harris under contract at linebacker. Hopes are high that Van Noy will take a big step forward this year after his rookie season was derailed by an injury. The other linebackers are mainly special teams contributors, but Van Noy is someone the Lions expect to contribute on defense.

Finally, Josh Bynes and Ashlee Palmer are set to become free agents. Bynes is actually a restricted free agent, but the Lions aren't planning to tender him. They are apparently hoping to re-sign him anyway, though, as he provided good depth at linebacker last season. Palmer also provided good depth, and he's been a pretty solid special teams contributor over the years as well.

Need going forward?

If the Lions are able to re-sign Bynes and Palmer, this could very well end up being the deepest position on the roster. The Lions could always look to add some linebackers who are more focused on special teams than anything, but it's tough to imagine any notable free agents or players in the draft being pursued at this position.

Previously: Quarterback, running back, fullback, wide receiver, tight end, offensive tackle, offensive guard, center, defensive end, defensive tackle

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