Tahir Whitehead is ending his NFL career where it began. The veteran linebacker is set to retire as a member of the Lions, reports Justin Rodgers of the Detroit News (Twitter link).
Whitehead was a fifth-round pick of the Lions in 2012. It took until his third year with the team to play his first defensive snap, but he had established himself as a full-time starter by the time he departed Detroit. Overall, he started 54 of 93 contests in the Motor City, eclipsing the 100-tackle mark in 2016 and 2017.
The following offseason, Whitehead signed a three-year, $19MM deal with the Raiders. He remained a productive starter there, playing every defensive snap in 2018 and racking up 234 tackles between his two seasons. His tenure in Oakland was cut short by one year, however, as he was released in 2020 amidst struggles in pass coverage.
That led to a pair of one-year stints for the 32-year-old. The first came in Carolina, where Whitehead saw a major reduction in workload. Logging a snap share under 50% for the first time in seven years, he still made 51 tackles, adding an interception and fumble recovery. Last season with the Cardinals, though, he was limited to just three games of special teams duty as a member of Arizona’s practice squad.
Overall, Whitehead will hang up his cleats with just over $26MM in career earnings. The TCU alum totaled 685 tackles and three sacks over his 10 years spent in the NFL, many of the best of which coming in Detroit, making his ceremonial return to the team a logical move.