Ashlee Palmer, Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis will compete for starting spot

Posted Mar 26, 2013

With reports that linebacker Justin Durant has agreed to terms with Dallas, the Detroit Lions are looking toward players they've developed to compete for the open spot

It looks like Justin Durant has found a new home.

ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys have agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the former Lions linebacker.

The deal can't be completed until the Cowboys clear some additional cap space, per Schefter.

After the first week of free agency passed without a deal between the Lions and Durant's representatives, it was apparent the Lions had moved on and were looking toward Ashlee Palmer and last year’s draft picks Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis to compete for the open spot.

"We have guys available that we have developed," head coach Jim Schwartz said during the NFL meetings last week. "Ashlee Palmer ... he started a couple of games for us last year, including that Jacksonville game, and a sign of a good player was that you didn’t even notice there was a player missing.

Travis Lewis
LB Travis Lewis (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

“We also drafted a couple guys last year with Whitehead and Lewis, we saw good things from them as we went through practices.”

The Lions signed Palmer to a two-year, $3.25 million extension late in the season and drafted Whitehead and Lewis in the fifth and seventh rounds, respectively.

Palmer made two starts last season when DeAndre Levy was injured and finished the season with 24 tackles and a forced fumble. He’s started nine games over a four-year career.

Whitehead played primarily on special teams and finished with 11 tackles and a forced fumble. When it comes to Whitehead, let’s not forget that the Lions were excited enough about his potential to give up a fourth-round pick in the upcoming draft to move up and select him.

Also playing primarily on special teams in 13 games, Lewis had three tackles.

“You guys might not see the development of a Tahir Whitehead or Travis Lewis except for what they do on Sunday in special teams and things like that,” Schwartz said.

“But the accumulation of reps and what they do on the practice field gives us confidence that we’ll be able to find that.”

The Lions will miss Durant, though. He was the team’s second-leading tackler in 2012 with 103 and amassed 171 over the last two seasons.

Durant thanked Lions fans for their support the last two seasons via Twitter on Tuesday.

"Shout out to Detroit man," he tweeted. "I wanna thank y'all for the luv and support y'all showed me the past couple years I really appreciate it."