Stephen Tulloch to Be Released by Lions: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIFebruary 18, 2016

DETROIT MI - OCTOBER 11: Linebacker Stephen Tulloch #55 of the Detroit Lions watches the action from the side lines during the fourth quarter of the game against the Arizona Cardinals on October 11, 2015 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The Cardinals defeated the Lions 42-17.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions reportedly informed veteran linebacker Stephen Tulloch he'll be released once the league year begins in March.

Pro Football Talk reported the news Thursday, citing a source, and NFL Network's Rand Getlin confirmed the Lions would be cutting Tulloch loose.

Tulloch took to Instagram to confirm he'll be moving on. He was thankful for his time with the team but also expressed optimism about his future:

Per Spotrac, Tulloch would have been a $7.3 million cap hit in 2016. The Lions will save $6 million in cap space by letting him go, since the dead cap penalty is only $1.3 million.  

The 31-year-old missed 13 games in 2014 because of a torn ACL he suffered celebrating a sack. Otherwise he's proved to be a productive, savvy veteran who started all 16 games for the Lions this past year, registering 107 combined tackles, one sack and one forced fumble.

Justin Rogers of highlighted how consistent Tulloch was:

After losing Ndamukong Suh in free agency last offseason, Detroit is letting another key member of its front seven go right before a contract year when Tulloch wasn't terribly expensive.

With stud outside linebacker DeAndre Levy missing all but one contest in 2015, he and Tulloch didn't get to play together for much of the past two seasons. The combination could have served the Lions well for at least this next year, yet it appears Detroit wants to get younger and find a replacement in the heart of its defense.

If injured top linebacker prospects such as UCLA's Myles Jack and Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith fall and are still on the board when the Lions pick 16th overall in the 2016 NFL draft, that could be the way Detroit goes. That's a tough scenario to count on, though.

Tulloch should be able to find employment soon enough, but the Lions may face more of a challenge replacing him unless they bring him back on a cheaper deal.

With retirement rumors surrounding the face of the franchise, star receiver Calvin Johnson, there's a lot of uncertainty in Detroit as the Lions try to bounce back from a 7-9 season.