One of the strangest offseason sagas has come to an end. Almost a full five months after Stephen Tulloch announced to the public via Instagram that his time in Detroit has come to an end, the Lions finally released him on Thursday.
Lions release LB Stephen Tulloch: https://t.co/20fXvTG3ot pic.twitter.com/O71GOvqkf2— Detroit Lions (@Lions) July 5, 2016
Head coach Jim Caldwell stated the following on Tuesday:
"As I have said numerous times since I became head coach of the Lions, Stephen Tulloch has been a consummate professional on and off the field."
"We thank him for his contributions to the Lions and the Detroit community and wish him the very best in all his future endeavors."
Tulloch's release had long been thought of as a formality. He was due to get paid an annual salary of $5.5 million in 2016, far too much for the two-down linebacker he has become at this point. And when the Lions re-signed Tahir Whitehead and essentially named him the starting middle linebacker, the writing was on the wall for Tulloch.
But things got weird shortly thereafter. No press release was ever made for the move and as time rolled on, no transaction was ever showed up on the NFL wire. When Detroit had their first major deadline to make the move -- March 14, when Tulloch was to receive a $500,000 bonus -- the team remained quiet and Tulloch remained a part of the roster. (Note: It now appears that bonus was guaranteed anyway.)
As questions continued to be hurled at the Lions' organization, none were returned with answers. The NFL Draft crept nearer with rumors that Tulloch would be traded. But, again, draft weekend came and went without a peep on Tulloch's future.
But the drama is finally over now, as the Lions have officially parted ways with the 31-year-old linebacker. Team officials have yet to comment on what held up the move, but expect reporters to grill both general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Jim Caldwell when given the chance. Though now that minicamp is over, the media may not get a chance to ask any questions until the beginning of training camp in late July.
Tulloch will now hit free agency very late in the game, but he should still be able to find a team where he could make meaningful contributions next season. Though his coverage skills have taken a dramatic step down, he is certainly still valuable as a run defender. Last season, Tulloch led the Lions with 107 tackles.
Update (4:40 p.m. ET):
Stephen Tulloch once again took to Instagram to say goodbye to the city of Detroit and the Lions: