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Report: Lions to pursue LBs Tulloch, Durant in free agency

The Detroit Lionsmight opt out of the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes, but that doesn't mean they won't be players once free agency begins.

While it wouldn't be the big splash that signing Asomugha would make, look for the Lions and general manager Martin Mayhew to pursue a linebacker -- specifically Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant, Fox Sports Detroit reported Friday, citing a source.

The source told the website that Durant would be the team's top choice over Tulloch because of his positional flexibility -- he can play inside or outside linebacker. Tulloch can only play middle linebacker.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz knows Tulloch, 26, from his days as the Tennessee Titans' defensive coordinator during the linebacker's first three seasons in the NFL. Tulloch led the Titans with 160 tackles last season, starting every game for the first time in his five-year career. He added a sack and an interception, too.

The Lions' staff also is familiar with Durant. James "Shack" Harris, the team's senior personnel executive, drafted the linebacker in 2007 when he was general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Durant, 25, has started 42 games for Jacksonville since he was taken in the second round of the 2007 draft. He is less durable than Tulloch, having missed 11 games in four seasons, including six last year.

The Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday that the Lions want to re-sign defensive end Cliff Avril, who had a career-high 8.5 sacks last season and could be an unrestricted free agent after the 2011 campaign. Avril's agent, Brian Mackler, told the newspaper that the sides "were in the infancy stages" in talking about a long-term contract before the lockout began March 12, and the player has said he wants to stay in Detroit.

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