The Detroit Lions have 28 players from their 2022 roster set to become free agents in 2023 (18 unrestricted, 10 restricted), and we are covering them all throughout the month of February.
Expectations heading into 2022
The Lions defense really struggled in 2021. In fact, it was the worst defense in the NFL. The one highlight on that defense Amani Oruwariye. The former fifth-round pick, who felt like an absolute steal on draft night, looked like he was about to take the next step in his career after finishing the season with six interceptions and 11 passes defended.
Naturally, the expectation for Oruwariye in 2022 was that he was going to continue to take that next step and be the Lions number one or two corner. Everyone knew there were things he needed to continue to improve, but it was expected that he would do just that—especially under the tutelage of Aaron Glenn and Aubrey Pleasant.
Actual role in 2022
14 games (5 starts): 44 tackles (1 for loss), 3 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery
PFF grade: 30.0 (120th out of 120 CBs with at least 300 snaps)
It became apparent as early as training camp that Oruwariye would not be the Lions number one corner in 2022. Sadly it became apparent not long after that he would not be the Lions number two corner either.
Oruwariye struggled immediately once the season got started. He got burnt regularly and it only got worse as the season went on. It’s impossible to know what’s going on in a player’s head, but it appeared Oruwariye lost his confidence out there, as he struggled at doing some of the basic things he thrived at in 2021.
Things hit an all time low for Oruwariye in Week 3 when he got called for six penalties in against the Vikings. Nearly all of those penalties put Minnesota in position to score and many of them came one right after the other. At first, it was thought that Oruwariye was struggling to play through a groin injury, but even after he came off the injury report, the mistakes—like this one—continued.
Dying at how far offsides the Lions defender at the top of the screen lined up pic.twitter.com/CU7sklcQ0R— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) October 30, 2022
Oruwariye was benched after this game and would be a healthy scratch the following week against the Packers. He wouldn’t start another game for the Lions and would be a healthy scratch again in Weeks 15 and 16.
Oruwariye would get a few more to right the ship, but he just couldn’t do it. Even in Week 18 when Oruwariye had to come in due to injuries, Aaron Rodgers immediately went after him for a big gain. It was just a massive fall from grace.
Outlook for 2023
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Not long ago, the thought was that the Lions were soon going to have to pay Oruwariye. In fact, some suggested giving him an extension prior to the 2021 season. Now it seems like a fairly safe bet that Oruwariye will not be returning to the Lions when his contract expires in March.
It’s seems like a simple call for the Lions. Oruwariye just didn’t work out. Sometimes that happens. It’s sad, but that’s the game. You never quite know for sure with the Lions, though. There’s a small chance they decide that there could be something still there for Oruwariye and he would likely be a cheap re-signing. Maybe he finds a way to the teams practice squad.
The more likely move is that Oruwariye leaves Detroit and finds himself somewhere else in 2023. He’s still a young player with a lot of impressive athletic traits. Teams will definitely look to kick the tires on him.
Should the Lions re-sign Amani Oruwariye?
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