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Notes: Will the Detroit Lions extend Romeo Okwara?

All quiet on the contract front

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NFL: Washington Football Team at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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: