While I’m not willing to fully weigh in on the Detroit Lions’ decision to re-sign Romeo Okwara until the full details of the contract are out, that hasn’t stopped other national experts from throwing their hat into the ring. Free agency grades and analysis are thrown out instantly because we know that’s what you want. There is no such thing as delayed gratification in free agency. Tell us that we’re special right now.
Well, good news, impatient Lions fans, because that national discourse surrounding Detroit’s decision to re-sign Okwara is nearly universally positive. Given that the edge rusher market dried up almost immediately, with the Buccaneers re-signing Shaquil Barrett (four years, $72 million), the Cardinals re-signing Markus Golden (two years, $9 million), and Matt Judon getting paid by the Patriots (four years, $56 million), the Lions were fortunate to get a deal done with Okwara before he tested free agency. And while the exact numbers aren’t completely known yet, it’s clear many felt the basic $13 million per year figure was completely reasonable.
The Lions did a really smart thing! https://t.co/PUBS7JjXCG— Doug Farrar (@NFL_DougFarrar) March 15, 2021
This is about the range I was comfortable spending on him. Thought someone would come to the table with 15mil+. Good for both sides. https://t.co/Z3XJTtccE3— Brett Whitefield (@BGWhitefield) March 15, 2021
“This is a solid move that allows Detroit to focus elsewhere in the draft and during free agency,” Schofield wrote.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert gave the move even more praise, grading the signing with an A. Specifically, he believed that Okwara may have gotten a lot more on the open market.
“The Lions did well to talk Okwara into this deal before he could test that theory,” Seifert said. “His $13 million average is a huge raise off the $3.2 million he earned in 2020, but it doesn’t put him into the top 10 of 4-3 defensive ends in the league.”
Of course, you can’t please everyone. PFF gave it an “average” grade, suggesting it was a significant overpay based on their estimates.
“Okwara’s deal may come in more above our projection than any other this offseason (we had him at three years, $24.75 million) because his sample size of great play is truly just the last six games of 2020,” PFF’s Brad Spielberger and Ben Linsey wrote. “Okwara finished the year on an absolute tear, and a full season with Trey Flowers and him off the edge could help turn Detroit’s defense around in a hurry. Nevertheless, the Lions still need to overhaul their secondary for Okwara and Flowers to have time to get home.”
That being said, his 2020 stats were eye-popping and all over Twitter following the re-signing.
Romeo Okwara: 61 total pressures in 2020— PFF (@PFF) March 15, 2021
T-5th most among edge defenders pic.twitter.com/nfEZsDFHQE
The Lions bring back pass rusher Romeo Okwara following a breakout season where he generated a career-high 13.4% pressure rate (first season over 10%).— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 15, 2021
Okwara was especially effective on 3rd down, where he led the NFL in pressures and pressure rate (min. 100 pass rushes). https://t.co/nu2vfS0mox pic.twitter.com/mAJWuRqrRi