On Thursday, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell joined the “Rich Eisen Show,” his first public appearance since the team traded away former first-round pick Jeff Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons for a fifth-round pick. Naturally, the topic came up early in the interview.
Campbell’s response to why they traded Okudah centered around the offseason moves the Lions made in the secondary—signing Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson.
“We knew we wanted to upgrade the secondary and we’ve been pleased with the upgrades that we’ve made, man,” Campbell told Eisen. “Bringing in Sutton and Moseley, and then getting C.J. Johnson from Philadelphia, we feel like we really beefed up that area. And we still got Jerry Jacobs, we got Will Harris back. So we’ve got a group and we just felt pretty good with the additions we made.”
That left Okudah—who would’ve cost over $10 million against the cap this season—likely coming off the bench in 2023. And considering he finished last season on the bench, it’s reasonable to assume that Okudah may not have even been the primary backup on the team behind Moseley, Sutton, and Jacobs on the outside.
While the Lions did not save a ton of money—the trade came with $5.5 million in dead cap, plus the Lions reportedly took on $1.5 million of his 2023 salary to facilitate the trade—Campbell said this move was the best for both sides.
“We really felt like, at this time, this is probably the best thing for us and for Jeff,” Campbell said. “A new change of scenery and give him a fresh start. We felt really good about our guys. And, look, man, I appreciate Jeff. Jeff was a pro, he came to work, he busted his ass. Man, he worked at it and he was coming off an injury last year and we just felt like, ‘You know what, this is the right thing to do right now.’”