Current top-five pass rusher Romeo Okwara spoke to the media via Zoom on Thursday. This season is a contract year for the older Okwara brother, who has a 2020 cap number of just over $4 million. According to an account of the call from MLive’s Ben Raven, though, it does not sound like any progress has been made of getting him a contract that extends beyond this season:
He was asked about hearing anything from the team regarding any talks and said, “nothing.” When Okwara was asked if he was surprised by the lack of development based on how he was playing, he said:
“It’s not something I’m thinking about — I’m just worried about beating the Panthers on Sunday, honestly.”
Per Raven’s article, a linked analysis by The Athletic’s Chris Burke and Sheil Kapadia (subscription required) estimates Okwara should expect a deal in the neighborhood of $30 million over three years if he continues producing at his current pace. Such a contract would still be less than half of what the team is paying Trey Flowers starting in 2021.
The Lions are already operating with a relatively low cap number (more than $14 million available) and are looking at $23 million in dead money coming off the books in 2021. That dead money includes $5 million from Damon Harrison’s old contract and $1.75 million from Devon Kennard’s old contract, so the entire projected increase would be offset (at least in 2021) by defensive front dead money no longer being paid next year.
In spite of the long-term uncertainty of his situation in Detroit, Okwara continues to stay focused on the games in front of him. Fox 2’s Dan Miller went 1-on-1 with him on Thursday night, and his mind is still on his “hometown” team Carolina this weekend and continuing to improve his own technique. Video of the interview is available online from the station.
.@Lions DE @RomeoND45, who leads all #NFL DEs with 7 games with a TFL, returns home to play a football game in Charlotte for the first time since high school.— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) November 19, 2020
Okwara starred at @AKHS_Football & grew up a Panthers fan.
He immigrated to Charlotte from Nigeria in 2005.#OnePride pic.twitter.com/10ln0HfjG7
Given that the Lions are already thin in the pass rushing department, retaining their best-performing rusher at a relatively modest price seems like a prudent move. Returning to the team is certainly a great thing in Okwara’s mind, since he has the best neighbor possible. Now for the rest of today’s Notes:
- Erik Schlitt from Lions Wire has a film breakdown of the Stafford-to-Jones touchdown pass against Washington that you won’t want to miss.
- Kind of interesting: Pro Football Focus noted that Lions cornerback Desmond Trufant has been uncharacteristically (for this defense) used to shadow the opponent’s top receiver each of the last two weeks.
- MLive’s Kyle Meinke explains why it’s unlikely that Swift will be able to play this week:
To pass concussion protocol, players must be symptom free for a 100% cardio workout, then a non-contact practice, then a contact practice. With just 1 practice left, Swift doesn't have enough time to play in Carolina. Unless I'm missing something, he's out https://t.co/nM9wxcBLES— kyle meinke (@kmeinke) November 19, 2020
- The Lions’ “motion at the snap” usage rate is now 4.3 percent (30th out of 32 teams), according to ESPN’s Seth Walder. Only the Falcons and Buccaneers are lower.
- The Lions have updated the official Bud Light Prater-McManus “Kick Me Some Bud Light” tracker.
Don't say it.— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) November 20, 2020
Don't sayyyyyyyyy it.
Doooooooooooonnt' saaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyy iiiiiiiiiiiiiit.
LIONS 1.5 GAMES OUT OF A PLAYOFF SPOT. pic.twitter.com/hYLZ27cYkz
Since both teams are 6-3 and the Lions have the tiebreaker over AZ, I would say root for Seattle. Have Seahawks win the division and have a better shot vs. AZ in the Wild Card.— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) November 19, 2020
This is, if you’re still rooting for playoffs. https://t.co/1BjY6ZeigQ