Itinerant quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan, regarded as the top player in NFL Europa this spring but released by the Chicago Bears late last week, signed with the Detroit Lions Friday.
O'Sullivan reached a contract agreement with Detroit on Monday afternoon, where a thin depth chart could provide the journeyman passer a legitimate opportunity to win a job as a backup to starter Jon Kitna.
The Lions will be the seventh team with which O'Sullivan has spent time, and the deal has completed his tour of the entire NFC North. The former U.C. Davis star previously spent time on rosters or practice squads in Green Bay, Minnesota and Chicago.
Given the lack of experience in Detroit, it is conceivable that O'Sullivan could compete for the No. 2 job behind Kitna. The most experienced backup on the roster is third-year veteran Dan Orlovsky, a fifth-round choice in 2005 who has appeared in two games.
Kitna, 34, took every snap for the Lions in 2006, the first quarterback in franchise history to ever do so.
When the Bears signed O'Sullivan to a contract in January, they told him that they would not bring him to camp if he didn't have a viable chance to make the team, and club officials kept that promise. It certainly appears that the move to the Lions will give O'Sullivan a better chance, perhaps his best opportunity ever, to win a job.
Most teams agree O'Sullivan possesses NFL-level talent, particularly in the right system, but he has struggled through the years to find a good spot.
O'Sullivan, 27, completed 160 of 235 passes for 1,997 yards, with 15 touchdown passes and seven interceptions, and a league-best passer efficiency rating of 103.1 in leading Frankfurt to a 7-3 record this spring. While not blessed with an especially strong arm, O'Sullivan is very accurate and most effective in a West Coast-style offense. He should be a good fit in the Mike Martz-designed offense in Detroit.
A sixth-round pick of the Saints in the 2002 draft, O'Sullivan has spent time on rosters in New Orleans (2002-2003), Green Bay (2004), Minnesota (2005), New England (2006) and Carolina (2006). He has served as the No. 3 quarterback for teams in 55 games, but has appeared in just one regular-season game -- in a mop-up role for the Packers in 2004. He did not record a pass attempt in that game.
The Lions also signed linebacker Johnny Baldwin and
cornerback Ramzee Robinson, the last player selected in the NFL
Robinson, a 5-foot-10, 186-pound cornerback from Alabama, was
the 23rd player to be recognized as Mr. Irrelevant, a moniker given
to the final player selected in the NFL draft.
The 6-foot-2, 232-pound Baldwin was chosen by Detroit in the
fifth round (158th overall) in the 2007 draft. He was a standout
linebacker for Alabama A&M, where he finished with 361 tackles.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.