Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 3/22/12
ALLEN PARK, Mich. There was a decided lack of drama in contract negotiations between the Lions and middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch that eventually led to Tulloch re-signing with a 5-year contract. Tulloch wanted to return to the Lions. The Lions wanted him back. All it took was time not hand-wringing or name-calling to get a deal done. Eight days a lifetime for many during NFL free-agency -- after the signing period began on March 13, the Lions and Tulloch got what both sides wanted signing Tulloch to a long-term contract that will keep him in Detroit as a valuable member of the defense. It was clear that I wanted to be here, and clear that the organization wanted me, Tulloch said at a press conference at the teams headquarters on Thursday. Theres no feeling like knowing youre wanted. To have that feeling and to know they were behind me, its a no-brainer. Tulloch agreed to terms on Tuesday, signed on Wednesday, and had his press conference on Thursday. This has been a bombastic few days around the NFL. On Tuesday, Peyton Manning signed a five-year contract with the Denver Broncos after considering the 49ers, Dolphins, Cardinals and Titans. On Wednesday, the NFL announced the massive penalties resulting from the leagues investigation into the New Orleans Saints bounty program. Also on Wednesday, the Broncos traded quarterback Tim Tebow to the Jets. In all sports, teams continue to do business as usual while other events generate headlines and national debate. I doubt if the Lions re-signing Tulloch moved the needle very far on the national drama-meter. Neither did Geoff Schwartz signing with the Vikings or the Raiders signing Khalif Barnes and Pat Lee. The Lions used to make headlines in March and April with free-agent signings and high draft picks. Damien Woody and Dre Bly were high-profile free agents who signed with the Lions, but they never played on a winner in Detroit because the Lions had a talent deficit. Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams all were high-profile draft picks who didnt live up to expectations. Roy Williams came closest, with one Pro Bowl appearance. Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh are recent high draft picks who lived up to expectations. And they should. Suh (2010) and Johnson (2007) were drafted second overall. Stafford was taken first overall in 09. But football isnt basketball, where one or two stars can drive a team to the playoffs. Winning in the NFL requires a solid, productive roster, and Tulloch is just that solid and productive. The owners lockout last year wiped out team-supervised offseason workouts and delayed the free-agent signing period until just before the start of training camp. Under rules imposed by the NFL, Tulloch was in a category of players that werent allowed to work out with their new teams until after the start of camp. From the moment he settled in at middle linebacker, Tulloch ruled the position. He led the defense with 111 tackles and added 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 5 pass breakups and 3 fumble recoveries. General Manager Martin Mayhew made it clear after the season, and again in his comments during the NFL Scouting Combine last month, that Tulloch was one of the free agents he wanted to re-sign. It was a matter of working through the process which meant letting the market for a middle linebacker establish itself and both sides being patient. He was a big pickup for us last year, Mayhew said Thursday. He came in and solidified our back seven. Hes really an important part of what were doing here. Bigger than his production on the field is what he gives us in the locker room, and what he means to our football team. His leadership, his toughness, competitiveness, his football character, his work ethic -- all those things are really important to us. Coach Jim Schwartz was emotional in talking about Tulloch, and how he beat the mold that made skeptics think he was too short (5-10) to play in the NFL. Schwartz was defensive coordinator of the Titans for three years, where Tulloch began his career in 2006, before coming to the Lions in 2009. This is a great day for every kid who was told hes too small, every kid who wasnt the fastest guy on paper but went out and had a passion for the game and played the game the way it was supposed to be played, Schwartz said. Hes everything thats right with the NFL -- everything thats right with the game of football. Selling Tebow What reaction Tim Tebows teammates will have in the locker room remains to be seen, but that has stopped the Tebow machine from rolling in high gear to sell Tebow gear to the public. Less than 12 hours after the trade to the Jets was official, the banner at the top of NFL.com, the leagues official website, was an ad for a Jets jersey with Tebows name plate on the back. Tebow, too Jets Prayers Answered was the headline on the New York Posts website next to a photo of Tebow kneeling in prayer. The New York Daily News had six stories related to Tebow on its website. Stantons lament Its hard to have any belief that the New York Jets were being honest with Drew Stanton when the former No. 3 quarterback signed with the Jets to be the backup to Mark Sanchez. Stanton signed a one-year, 1.25-million contract last week with the Jets after being told by Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum that he would be the backup to Sanchez. Stanton reportedly is considering asking the Jets to trade or release him. Tannenbaums comments in the New York Post, when asked about Tebows presence adding to the pressure on Sanchez, clearly show that Tebow has moved ahead of Stanton on the depth chart. Every quarterback has a backup, Tannenbaum was quoted as saying. We just changed who ours is.
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