NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Whitehead would be re-signing with the Lions, adding the linebacker is expected to receive a two-year deal valued at more than $8 million. Whitehead took to Instagram to confirm the deal was done:
Whitehead was a fifth-round pick of the Lions in 2012. He's only made 24 starts in the four seasons that followed. Detroit has mostly used him as a rotational piece in the defense, both as an outside linebacker and inside linebacker.
His best season came in 2014, when he appeared in all 16 games, including 15 starts, en route to racking up 86 combined tackles, five passes defended and two interceptions.
The Temple product saw his role reduced once again in 2015, though. He did have some better moments during the second half of the campaign and remained confident in his ability, as noted after the season by Tim Twentyman of the Lions' official website:
If I'm getting 10 plays in the game, and I'm playing man-to-man in coverage and they're not throwing it to my man, of course it's going to look like I'm not really doing much. So, that's what it really boiled down to and what was the difference early on, I wasn't quite getting the snap count I was getting at the end.
Despite starting just nine games, he still graded out as one of Pro Football Focus' top players on the Detroit defense, per Lions Insider:
Lions Top PFF Grades (DEFENSE)— Lions Insider (@Lions_Insider) January 4, 2016
Ziggy Ansah +2.4
Tahir Whitehead +2.2
Devin Taylor +1.9
So making sure he found the right fit after a promising but frustrating campaign was the most important thing for the linebacker heading into the offseason.
Whitehead decided the Lions still represented his best opportunity to move forward. He'll hope showing some loyalty at a time when he could have jumped to a new team will lead to a more consistent role within the defense next season.
He's not a prototypical edge-rusher. In turn, even though he's played all over the linebacker level, his best moments have come while playing in the middle. It's an area that's still unsettled for Detroit, which means he could take over the role for 2016 and beyond.
Now the onus is on Whitehead to show he can make a major impact over the course of an entire season.