LB Tahir Whitehead stays with Lions

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
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Tahir Whitehead

Despite interest from other teams, linebacker Tahir Whitehead is staying with the Lions.

Whitehead visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, but he accepted an offer from the Lions later in the day.

In Whitehead, the Lions have a starting-caliber linebacker with an intimate knowledge of Teryl Austin’s defense after being a major factor the past two seasons.

After opening 2014 as the starting strong-side linebacker, Whitehead spent most of the season as the middle linebacker following Stephen Tulloch’s season-ending knee injury, and he finished second on the team with 86 tackles.

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When Tulloch returned in 2015, the assumption was that Whitehead would return to the strong side, but coaches pegged Travis Lewis, who signed with the Vikings Wednesday, as the starter to open the season. Whitehead earned a bigger role over the course of the season, playing both in the middle and strong side, and the defense performed much better in the second half as he played more.

The 25-year-old Whitehead’s deal is for two years and $8 million, according to NFL Network.

Before visiting the Buccaneers, Whitehead received interest from the Philadelphia Eagles.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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