On Stephen Tulloch And the Eagles

Lions haven't cut him loose yet, but is a reunion with Jim Schwartz in the cards?




UPDATE: Looks like the Lions finally made the move:

And the reason for the delay is now out:

From earlier:

Jim Schwartz could use some additional help at linebacker and has a good history with Stephen Tulloch, who by all accounts was to be released by the Lions this offseason. It made some sense, then, that the Eagles might take a look once the veteran hit the market.

One problem: the veteran still hasn’t hit the market. The exact reason why remains a bit of a mystery.

“There’s no good reason why they haven’t cut him yet. They still plan to,” said Lions beat writer for the Detroit Free Press, Dave Birkett. “I don’t know what the holdup is. It’s certainly not contractual. He’s not entitled to pay them back any money.

“I’ve made the same connection that I’m sure a lot of people have that Tulloch to the Eagles would seem like a good fit. The Lions and Eagles play this year, maybe they are trying to wait that out as long as possible…but it would make sense to me that he goes back to Schwartz and takes a vet-minimum type deal to play over there for a year or two.”

Perhaps Detroit is still holding out hope that they can fetch something back in a trade as urgency (and injuries) pick up as we get closer to the season. Whatever the reason, it still seems to be a matter of when, not if, Tulloch shakes loose.

Schwartz has already reunited with several of his former players in Philly, including linebacker Nigel Bradham and cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks, all of whom played under Schwartz in Buffalo. His connection to Tulloch dates back to his head-coaching days in Detroit. Tulloch chose the Lions during the 2011 offseason in large part because of Schwartz, according to Birkett, and the two ended up enjoying a good working relationship.

“Schwartz certainly liked him as a player; he liked the leadership and the accountability that he brought,” he said.

Tulloch spent the last five years with the Lions, posting 100-plus tackles in four of those seasons — the lone exception being 2014 when he tore the ACL in his left knee while celebrating a sack on Aaron Rodgers. He had 107 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in 2015 while playing a more limited role.

“Tulloch has lost a step. He’s not quite the same player that he was early on in his career. The Lions used him as a two-down linebacker essentially last year because of some limitations he had in pass coverage but he still had 100 tackles and led the team,” said Birkett.

“I think he still has some value as a player.”

The Eagles look to be in pretty good shape when it comes to the starting linebacker unit, with Jordan Hicks in the middle and Bradham and Mychal Kendricks playing on the outside. They could use some added depth to go with the likes of Najee Goode, though, particularly given Hicks’ injury history. Tulloch could provide that along with intimate knowledge of Schwartz’s scheme. What he likely wouldn’t provide is assistance on special teams. The Eagles would have to weigh that as they look to shape the most effective 53-man roster.

The Lions have decided to hold onto Tulloch for the time being, triggering a $500,000 roster bonus that they’ll be forced to eat in the process. But with the 31-year-old scheduled to make a base salary of $5.5 million this season, the expectation is that Detroit will still cut him loose. The Eagles — and Tulloch — will have a decision to make if/once that happens.

“He’s obviously going to be a short-term solution,” said Birkett, “but for a team that I imagine at least wants to contend right away and have some good pieces on defense, I think he could be a solid player. He’s not going to be a Pro Bowler, he’s not going to wow everyone, but I do think he’d be a solid contributor on that team.”