Lions to release Tulloch after five seasons

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

The Lions made another cost-cutting move Thursday, informing linebacker Stephen Tulloch of their plan to release him.

Tulloch, 31, spent the past five seasons with the Lions and was a major factor in the team making the postseason in 2011. But after a season-ending knee injury in 2014 and a lackluster performance in 2015, the team decided he wasn’t worth the financial obligation in 2016.

Cutting Tulloch will save the Lions $6 million on the salary cap next season. He was due $5.5 million in base salary and had a $500,000 roster bonus due.

The Lions didn’t file Tulloch’s release with the NFL Thursday, but told him it would be happening, though it might not be official until next month.

Tulloch announced the move on Instagram Thursday night.

“What a journey it’s been Detroit!” he wrote. “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.”

Tulloch went on to thank the Ford family, team executives, coaches and others before thanking the Detroit community for helping with his foundation, which regularly held programs to assist Detroit families and had annual events for women affected by breast cancer. He was the Lions’ Walter Payton Man of the Year representative the past three years.

Tulloch joined the Lions in 2011 on a one-year deal as he reunited with then-coach Jim Schwartz, who had been the defensive coordinator with the Titans for three of Tulloch’s five seasons in Tennessee.

After an impressive first year in Detroit, the Lions signed him to a five-year deal worth up to $25.5 million.

Tulloch had 100-plus tackles and started 16 games in four of his five seasons with the Lions. In 2014, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 3. He struggled defending the pass when he returned last season, which led to coaches taking him out on passing downs, but he still tallied a team-high 107 tackles.

Coach Jim Caldwell said at the end of the season that Tulloch accepted his new role well in 2015.

“He took it on exactly like you thought he would,” Caldwell said. “A lot of integrity, a lot of character, and kept making plays, which is key. He did a great job of leading our group.”

Now, Tulloch will look to see if he can have a career resurgence elsewhere.