Lions release Stephen Tulloch, ending linebacker's limbo

The Detroit Lions released Stephen Tulloch on Tuesday, four months after the veteran linebacker was told by the team that he wasn't in its plans for the 2016 season.

"As I have said numerous times since I became head coach of the Lions, Stephen Tulloch has been a consummate professional on and off the field," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said in a statement.

"We thank him for his contributions to the Lions and the Detroit community and wish him the very best in all his future endeavors."

The Detroit Free Press reported that Tulloch had offseason surgery of an undisclosed nature and didn't pass a physical exam until Tuesday, at which time the Lions released him. The Lions would have absorbed a larger salary-cap charge if they had released Tulloch earlier in the offseason, the newspaper reported.

The Lions told Tulloch in February that he would be released, but he went through the first part of the league year, free agency, the draft and organized team activities while still on the roster. Tulloch has not shown up for any offseason workouts.

Tulloch, 31, was Detroit's leading tackler last season with 107 tackles. He had been one of the Lions' most durable players as well before tearing his ACL while celebrating a sack of Aaron Rodgers in 2014. He returned last season and became more of a two-down player, coming off the field in passing situations. Except for the 2014 season, Tulloch has had 100-plus tackles every year since 2009.

The Lions re-signed Tahir Whitehead during free agency to replace Tulloch at middle linebacker. By releasing Tulloch, the Lions will save $5.5 million against the salary cap.

ESPN's Michael Rothstein contributed to this report.