The Lions told Whitehead that he will compete for the starting middle linebacker job, The Detroit Free Press reports. The Lions are expected to release 31-year-old Stephen Tulloch, who carries a $7.3 million cap hit for the final year of his contract. The team presumably wants a younger and cheaper starting middle linebacker, after Tulloch was largely limited to a two-down role in 2015. The 25-year-old Whitehead signed a two-year, $8 million contract last week, making him the favorite to take over Tulloch's old role, though Josh Bynes could also compete for the job. Whitehead started 24 games for Detroit over the past two years, playing both inside and outside linebacker, yet never quite earning a consistent every-down role. He should have the inside track to that role in 2016, potentially leading to IDP utility.
The Lions and Whitehead agreed to terms of a two-year contract Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. For the second season in a row, Whitehead received at least 50 percent of the Lions' defensive snaps in 2015, which he turned into 51 tackles (including two sacks), one interception, and one fumble recovery in 16 games. With DeAndre Levy (hip) expected to be healthy in the fall, Whitehead will likely man the other outside linebacker spot on most downs.
Whitehead notched eight tackles (seven solo) and a sack in Sunday's win over the Packers. Whitehead was very impressive on Sunday as he helped the Lions' defense shut down a prolific Packers' offense in Green Bay, which ultimately led to a victory. Whitehead recorded his first sack of the season on a day where he put up by far his best numbers of the season. The fourth-year linebacker won't hold a ton of IDP value moving forward, but he could be good for a solid game or two like this every once in awhile.
Lions third-year linebacker Tahir Whitehead is trying to maximize his run-stopping ability, so he spent time in the offseason trying to maximize his weight without sacrificing quickness. The result was a gain of seven poinds to 245. Whitehead was provided an opportunity to play last year when Stephen Tulloch went down three games in. But Tulluch has since recovered, which results in Whitehead competing with Kyle Van Noy for the starting strongside job. He certainly proved his worth in 2014. Whitehead racked up 12 tackles in his first start a year ago and finished the season with 86 as a full-time starter. But despite statistics that motivated Pro Football Focus to grade him out positively against the run, he felt he needed to put on some weight. "Watching back last season, sometimes in the run game, I wasn't as sturdy as I could have been," he told MLive.com. "I bulked up a bit to be more stout against the run."
The Lions' Stephen Tulloch will start at middle linebacker again once he returns from the torn ACL he suffered Week 3 last year, reports MLive.com. "He's highly experienced and highly productive," coach Jim Caldwell told the website. "And he's a great leader." Tulloch, 30, is progressing well in his rehab, the report said, but it's unclear when he'll return. Tulloch had 135 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2013, his last full season. Tahir Whitehead likely will fill in until Tulloch returns. Whitehead had 86 tackles and two interceptions last year.
|3||09/25||@Green Bay Packers||2|
|6||10/16||Los Angeles Rams||30|
|13||12/04||@New Orleans Saints||22|
|15||12/18||@New York Giants||29|
|17||01/01||Green Bay Packers||2|