Lions President Rod Wood confirmed the agreement Friday night.
"We are thrilled to have agreed to a deal with Bob," Wood said in a statement. "As Mrs. (Martha Firestone) Ford indicated at the outset, our search would be national in scope, and we would do everything possible to identify the very best person to lead our football operation. We believe Bob is that person.
Quinn has been the Patriots’ director of pro scouting for four seasons after serving as assistant director of pro personnel for two years. He has been a part of the franchise’s personnel department for 16 years, working as a national, regional and pro scout after starting out as a player personnel assistant.
"Bob has done a good job," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said this week. "Been with us for a long time and has had a number of different responsibilities in the scouting department -- pro, college, advance -- different projects and all that. He's done a real solid job."
Quinn, who is from Norwood, Massachusetts, earned two degrees at Connecticut and was hired by New England after serving as a graduate assistant in the Huskies' athletic department.
The Lions have been looking for a GM since firing Martin Mayhew midway through the season. They promoted Sheldon White on an interim basis and he was among the candidates to get the job.
"Sheldon has done an exemplary job under less-than-ideal circumstances," Wood said. "We appreciate his professionalism and contributions as our interim GM."
Quinn's first task will be to decide whether to retain or fire coach Jim Caldwell.
Wood, who replaced Tom Lewand soon after he was fired two months ago, has said the next GM will decide who coaches the team in 2016. Caldwell led the Lions to an 18-14 record in two regular seasons and lost a wild-card game last year.
Quinn might also have to figure out how to attempt to replace superstar receiver Calvin Johnson if he chooses to retire, or if he is cut to avoid a $24 million salary cap hit next season.
The Lions will likely have quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Golden Tate along with running backs Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick to build around on offence. On the other side of the ball, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, linebacker DeAndre Levy and cornerback Darius Slay are Detroit's top players.
Whomever the franchise has had in uniform, including Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, it hasn't won much when it matters most. The Lions have only one playoff victory in the playoffs since winning the 1957 NFL title.
Since Quinn joined the Patriots in 2000, they are 21-8 in the post-season, including a 4-2 mark in the Super Bowl.