Just before Nick Barnett was set to visit the Detroit Lions, the team signed another free agent linebacker instead.
The Lions agreed to terms with Stephen Tulloch Sunday morning, reports the Chicago Sun-Times’ Sean Jensen. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Tulloch signed a one-year, $3.25 million deal with $1.8 million guaranteed.
Rumors had the Lions offering Tulloch a contract worth $6 million a year with a $10 million signing bonus last week. But Tulloch’s agent Drew Rosenhaus disputed those rumors on Twitter. Whether Rosenhaus’ side of the story is correct, the Lions felt as if they needed to talk to Barnett about filling their linebacker hole instead.
With Barnett scheduled to visit on Sunday, Tulloch may have felt the need to take whatever deal the Lions were offering. MLive.com’s Tom Kowalski also speculates that Tulloch agreeing to a lesser contract might indicate that he wasn’t receiving the offers he hoped for on the open market. And if Barnett signed with the Lions, that left him one less place to go. A one-year deal obviously isn’t what he wanted, but maybe Tulloch can find a better contract in a less hectic marketplace next year.
Tulloch played his first five NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans, three of which were played under Lions head coach Jim Schwartz when he was the Titans’ defensive coordinator.
Interestingly, Tulloch broke out once Schwartz left for Detroit. He finished second in the NFL last season with 160 tackles, 111 of them solo stops. In 2009, he compiled 121 tackles, good for 13th in the league.
The Lions have done an impressive job bolstering their defensive unit since the NFL lockout ended. Tulloch joins Justin Durant, who signed with Detroit last week, in Detroit’s overhauled linebacking corps. Eric Wright also signed to help out the team’s secondary.
Detroit still needs to sign a cornerback. The team would like to bring back Chris Houston, though it’s believed Houston is hoping to find a larger deal in free agency than the Lions are willing to offer right now.
Click over to SB Nation’s Detroit Lions blog, Pride of Detroit, for plenty more on the Lions’ latest moves and updates from training camp.