There are countless past (and some present) NFL stars still floating in the abyss known as free agency. Some are available because they have outlived their usefulness. Some make too much money for their team to afford to keep them. Some are the last to know their days are over and they hold press conferences while doing shirtless sit-ups in their driveway.
One recent addition to the free agent whirlpool shouldn’t still be there.
Former Detroit Lions middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch is still in search of a new team. The Lions cut Tulloch on July 5th and almost three weeks later, he hasn’t visited another team. According to the Detroit Free Press, Tulloch had offseason arthroscopic ankle surgery and didn’t pass a physical until the day he was released.
Media reports out of Detroit and different NFL sites speculate the Lions didn’t bring Tulloch back amid concerns of his age, declining lateral quickness and inability to play in coverage.
This is also coming from a team that recently fired most of their front office and has a brand new General Manager calling the shots. One could question the decisions coming out of the front office if they didn’t consider trying to get something for him before the draft if they knew he wasn’t part of the future in Detroit.
There are too many reasons why San Diego should sign this man.
Veteran leadership: Tulloch is 5’11”, 245-pounds and turned 31 on January 1st. A ten-year veteran of the NFL, Tulloch played the first five years of his career in Tennessee before signing on with the Lions. He would be an outstanding mentor to the budding young linebacker corps in San Diego while showing them how it’s done on the field. (i.e. Dwight Freeney).
Durability: The man is beyond durable for his position. Outside of his 2014 season where he suffered a torn ACL in game three, Tulloch has not missed a single NFL game.
Productivity: Tulloch is a tackling machine. Last season, he led Detroit in tackles with 107 combined tackles (74 solo). In six of the last seven seasons, Tulloch has recorded over 100 combined tackles. In his career to date he has 942 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 27 passes defensed and five interceptions.
By comparison, no member of the current Chargers’ roster has had a 100-tackle season. The last ones to do it were Eric Weddle, Takeo Spikes and Stephen Cooper.
Fit: Tulloch would move into a rotation that at the moment lists Manti Te’o, Denzel Perryman, Joshua Perry and Nick Dzubnar as the current middle linebackers. Tulloch would form a great two-down, run-stuffing linebacker. He would form an excellent tandem with the Bolts’ free agent acquisition, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.
There’s only one logical reason this addition hasn’t happened yet. Money.
Tulloch was in the final year of a five-year, 25.5-million deal he signed in 2012. The base for Tulloch for 2016 was to be 5.5-million. The Lions paid him a 500,000 roster bonus in March. Paying him in the new league year allows them only take a 1.3-million cap hit for releasing him. The Lions free themselves of that contract and Tulloch is officially a free agent.
Any team could sign him for the veterans’ minimum. of course, he’ll want more than that but if they wanted, the Chargers could have him in lightning bolts before training camp begins on the 30th. There’s nothing wrong with competition and bringing in Tulloch would push Te’o and Dzubnar to step up their game or be replaced.
Defense wins championships. This signing would make the defense even more formidable and advance the development of the Chargers’ young nucleus even more. What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One