Detroit Lions Free Agency 2021: A busy first day as the market opens

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

For many, it’s the most wonderful time of year.  As the NFL free agency period opens, teams work vigorously to sign who they’ve deemed their most coveted targets on the open market.  The Detroit Lions, like many teams, proved to be fairly busy on day one.

Free agents are not permitted to sign official contracts until Wednesday, but teams and players can come to terms on a deal starting Monday.

It’s a legal tampering period which seems comical; why not just open the flood gates on Wednesday and allow players to sign immediately?

Usually, the reported deals Monday and Tuesday are still agreed upon come Wednesday, but the odd time (Anthony Barr) a player will have a change of heart when it’s time to put pen to paper.

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The Detroit Lions announced they’ve agreed to an extension with defensive end Romeo Okwara.

Minutes into the start of the ‘legal tampering period, the Detroit Lions announced a contract extension for their top pass-rusher, Romeo Okwara, who finished the 2020 season with a team-leading 10 sacks.

I mentioned in the past that Okwara had been the player I hoped the new Lions regime would choose to retain moving forward.  As good as Kenny Golladay is and can be, a reliable edge-rusher at an affordable rate is far more difficult to replace than a pass-catcher.

Okwara signed a three-year contract extension worth $39-million.  The franchise tag for this position was set at $18-million, so I understood why general manager Brad Holmes decided against that.  I hoped Okwara would have settled for somewhere around $10-million per season, but in the grand scheme of things, $13-million per season isn’t all that bad for a 25-year old whose play may still be improving.

In other Detroit Lions related free agency news;

The Detroit Lions decided to part ways with Joe Dahl after he failed his physical.  Dahl seemingly battled injuries for the majority of last season.  Recently Dahl had been hampered by groin and back issues.  The move frees up about $2.6 million against the cap.

I expect second-year guard Logan Stenberg and the disappointing Halapoulivaati Vaitai from a year ago to compete for the vacant position this summer.

Holmes decided to give Jalen Reeves-Maybin another opportunity.  With the Lions defense shifting to a 3-4, an athletic Reeves-Maybin will have an opportunity to utilize his skill-set and play himself into a more prominent role within defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s system.

Reeves-Maybin is also valuable working on special teams.  The deal is a one-year commitment totaling $2.37 million.

In other news, the New York Jets signed former Detroit Lions middle linebacker Jarrad Davis to a one-year $7-million deal.  I expect first-year head coach Robert Saleh to experiment with Davis as a ‘Jack’ linebacker rather than using him as a middle linebacker.  In this role, Davis will be able to utilize his athleticism as more of a pass-rusher, something I’d lobbied the Detroit Lions to do over the past two years.

Next. Seven-Round Mock NFL Draft with trades. dark

The Detroit Lions also lost their electric kick returner to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Jamal Agnew signed the former fifth-round pick to a three-year deal worth $21-million.  Huge money for a return specialist, but perhaps Urban Meyer will have an expanded role for the Swiss-Army knife.