Foote said most of the terms of the deal were reached Tuesday night and he expected it to be completed Wednesday morning.
"I'm excited because it's a fresh start for me," Foote said Tuesday night in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It's a one-year deal to show my talents, and hopefully end up signing a long-term deal after showing the Lions and their new coaching staff what I can do."
Foote said he met everybody from coaches to executives to cooks at Lions headquarters in Allen Park, Mich., earlier in the day, and his agent, Ken Kremer, worked to complete a deal.
The Pittsburgh Steelers released Foote on Monday, a move expected because he asked to be traded or cut. He started every game for them the past five seasons, including their Super Bowl victories last season and after the 2005 season, but was unhappy coming off the field on passing downs.
The native of Detroit and former Michigan star said a lot of teams have expressed interest in him, including the Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts.
Foote will become the middle linebacker the Lions desperately need coming off the first 0-16 season in NFL history.
Foote was due to make $2.885 million in the final season of his contract, but the Steelers no longer owe him the money.
With Lawrence Timmons ready to start, Foote told the Steelers last week he wanted to be dealt or cut. Pittsburgh released Foote after failing to find a team willing to part with a draft pick for him.
Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said Foote was a big part of the team's success, but the salary cap made the decision inevitable.
Foote, a fourth-round draft pick in 2002, had 14½ sacks and three interceptions over the last five years with Pittsburgh after mostly being used on special teams in his first two seasons.