Detroit Lions News: Re-signing Romeo Okwara will be an offseason priority

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Lions will need to make re-signing defensive end Romeo Okwara a priority.

Regardless of who the next general manager or head coach of the Detroit Lions is, re-signing defensive end Romeo Okwara needs to be a priority.

Originally I thought Okwara had been enjoying some of his success since opposing offenses felt the need to pay close attention to Detroit’s household name in Trey Flowers, who, when healthy, lines up on the opposite end of the teams’ defensive line.  But with Flowers sidelined due to injury, Okwara continues to cause havoc, his relentlessness is giving quarterbacks and right tackles fits week in and week out.

While watching Okwara excel at the NFL level, it’s astonishing to me that he was another player that fell through the cracks during his 2016 NFL Draft year.  Okwara landed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent after the 2016 Draft.

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The former Notre Dame product landed with the Detroit Lions in 2018 after being waived by the Giants, where he failed to make much of an impact.  Okwara is proving to be one of former general manager Bob Quinn’s better acquisitions, especially considering the organization didn’t need to give up a thing to receive his services.

Time and time again, it seems to be Okwara flashing on a rusty Detroit Lions defense.  In Sundays come from behind victory over their arch-rivaled Chicago Bears, Okwara played the hero, completing a sack-fumble when the defense needed it most, down three with about two minutes left in the ball game.

It is funny how things work out sometimes.  Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky channeled his inner Joe Montana in a Week One matchup that saw Chicago defeating the Lions in Detroit after being down three scores in the fourth quarter.

Okwara leads the Detroit Lions with seven sacks and 49 total pressures; he’s quietly on the cusp of being one of the better pass-rushers in all of football.  For Okwara, it is a perfect time to need a contract extension.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Okwara is maintaining a solid 78.9 overall pass-rush grade.  While he’s struggled mightily defending the run only earning a 40.5 mark, that pass rush grade is what he’s paid to do.

Okwara is in the final year of his deal that averages a mere $2.75 million per season.  While he surely won’t command elite defensive end money, he will certainly be in-line for a significant raise.

I’d expect Okwara’s price tag to level off around $12-million per season, and that’s a fair price for an above-average end that’s still only 25-years old.

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The Detroit Lions do have a bit of emotional leverage after drafting Romeo’s younger brother Julian in the 2020 NFL Draft.  I understand the NFL is a business, but I’d expect wanting to play together will play a role in the organization’s ability to retain Romeo.