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2012 NFL Free Agency: Stephen Tulloch signs five-year deal with Detroit Lions, linebacker market heats up

The first big-name linebacker is off the market in free agency, as the Detroit Lions have re-signed middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch to a five-year deal with undisclosed terms. This is the first domino to fall on the linebacker market, which has seen extremely little movement in free agency so far.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in need of at least one starting linebacker, but they have been waiting for the price to drop on the linebackers currently on the market. Those linebackers include Curtis Lofton, Jameel McClain and David Hawthorne, all of whom would fit with Tampa Bay.

I'll be very curious to see the terms of Stephen Tulloch's contract, as it should set a benchmark for Curtis Lofton's contract. Lofton is probably still of interest to the Bucs, as they tried to sign him early in free agency but found his demands too expensive. If Tulloch's contract is reasonable, the Bucs could easily sign him.

It's not clear how much room the Bucs have left under the salary cap, but factoring in a few tenders that have yet to be signed and contract numbers for rookies that have yet to be drafted, they likely have around $8 million in salary cap space they can actually spend. That number could go up if they decide to get rid of Kellen Winslow and his hefty cap number of over $6 million.