Penei Sewell

Lions, RT Penei Sewell Reach Record-Setting Extension

On what will go down as one of the bigger days a single franchise has put together on the contract front in recent NFL history, the Lions have another record-setting agreement in place. Not long after Amon-Ra St. Brown‘s deal emerged, Penei Sewell is now locked down long term.

Sewell agreed to terms on a four-year, $112MM extension, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo reports. That $28MM-per-year number shatters a right tackle AAV record. Not only is this the new right tackle standard, Sewell’s second contract doubles as the largest ever given to an offensive lineman.

The contract will average $30MM per year over its first three seasons, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones reports. It would seem this deal will run through 2029, with the Lions having a fifth-year option on Sewell that covered 2025. Indeed, SI.com’s Albert Breer confirms the extension runs through ’29 after an exercised option.

The deal includes $85MM guaranteed, Garafolo adds. That guarantee number comes in well north of any other O-lineman’s figure as well. Andrew Thomas‘ $67MM Giants guarantee previously stood as the current high-water mark. No other OL is tied to a guarantee higher than $64MM. This represents a tremendous commitment to Sewell, who has thus far rewarded the Lions for their first-round investment in 2021.

Despite the Lions having two years of control remaining via the option, they will pass on that process to do an extension now. While Thomas needed to agree to a five-year deal to lock in monster tackle money after his third season, the Lions will reward Sewell while giving him a chance to negotiate a third contract — should he stay in top form — in his late 20s. Sewell will not turn 24 until October.

It is difficult to overstate the commitment the Lions are making to Sewell. The right tackle market finally reached the $20MM-per-year place in 2023, when the Eagles gave Lane Johnson another extension and the Chiefs matched that $20MM-AAV payment for free agent Jawaan Taylor. Sewell effectively has his own salary bracket at the position. His $28MM AAV also comes in $3MM higher than Laremy Tunsil‘s LT-record number. This is a rather big day for a player who joined the Lions after opting out of his final college season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both Sewell and St. Brown came to Detroit in the first Brad Holmes-Dan Campbell draft. Each has become an impact player, with Sewell finishing last season as a first-team All-Pro. The Oregon alum has two Pro Bowls on his resume and has extensive experience at both tackle spots. The Lions drafted Sewell seventh overall and kicked him to left tackle after a 2021 Taylor Decker injury. Decker returned in 2022, and the Lions followed through with their initial Sewell plan. They have since seen him become one of the game’s best right tackles.

Sewell’s move back to right tackle coincided with the Lions forming one of the league’s best offensive lines. The team paired a Decker-Sewell tackle tandem with Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow. Even as the Lions saw some guard instability crop up due to Halapoulivaati Vaitai‘s health over the past two years, the team offered Jared Goff top-tier protection and opened regular run lanes for the likes of Jamaal Williams, David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. This O-line has played a central role in Goff’s Motor City resurgence — one that is on track to produce a big extension for the veteran quarterback, most likely before Week 1 — and the Lions’ journey from a three-win 2021 to last season’s NFC championship game.

The Lions did not give up on keeping four-year guard starter Jonah Jackson in free agency, but the team pivoted to a cheaper alternative upon learning where his market was headed. The club’s Sewell plans undoubtedly factored into that decision. The Lions already have Ragnow on a top-tier center contract and Decker signed to an upper-crust LT deal. Decker is going into a contract year, though he made interesting news by revealing discussions on a third contract have begun.

The Lions are betting big early on a player who has shown dominant form. Pro Football Focus rated Sewell as the NFL’s top tackle last year, particularly lauding his run-blocking ability. ESPN’s pass block win rate placed Sewell sixth. PFF slotted Sewell 10th among tackles in 2022, and the Lions certainly believe a quality prime is ahead for the former No. 7 overall pick.

Detroit landed Sewell after Cincinnati opted for Ja’Marr Chase at No. 5 three years ago, as the Bengals added Joe Burrow‘s former teammate rather than address a then-glaring RT need. This became the Lions’ gain. While Decker is going into his age-31 season — a contract year — the Lions still have the tandem heading into a fourth year together.

It will be interesting to see how this megadeal impacts Decker’s Detroit future, but the defending NFC North champions have two key parts of a high-stakes offseason itinerary checked off via the St. Brown and Sewell deals. In all likelihood, a third Goff contract is up next.

2025 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 2 to officially pick up fifth-year options on 2021 first-rounders. The 2020 CBA revamped the option structure and made them fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, fifth-year option salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement and performance- and usage-based benchmarks:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternates) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag
  • Players who achieve any of the following will receive the average of the third-20th-highest salaries at their position:
    • At least a 75% snap rate in two of their first three seasons
    • A 75% snap average across all three seasons
    • At least 50% in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will receive the average of the third-25th top salaries at their position

With the deadline looming, we will use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

  1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars ($25.66MM)
  2. QB Zach Wilson, Broncos* ($22.41MM)
  3. QB Trey Lance, Cowboys** ($22.41MM)
  4. TE Kyle Pitts, Falcons ($10.88MM)
  5. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals ($21.82MM): Exercised
  6. WR Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins ($15.59MM): To be exercised
  7. T Penei Sewell, Lions ($19MM): Extended through 2029
  8. CB Jaycee Horn, Panthers ($12.47MM)
  9. CB Patrick Surtain, Broncos ($19.82MM): Exercised
  10. WR DeVonta Smith, Eagles ($15.59MM): Extended through 2028
  11. QB Justin Fields, Steelers*** ($25.66MM): To be declined
  12. DE Micah Parsons, Cowboys ($21.32MM): Exercised
  13. T Rashawn Slater, Chargers ($19MM)
  14. OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jets ($13.31MM)
  15. QB Mac Jones, Jaguars**** ($25.66MM)
  16. LB Zaven Collins, Cardinals ($13.25MM)
  17. T Alex Leatherwood, Raiders: N/A
  18. LB Jaelan Phillips, Dolphins ($13.3MM): To be exercised
  19. LB Jamin Davis, Commanders ($14.48MM)
  20. WR Kadarius Toney, Chiefs***** ($14.35MM)
  21. DE Kwity Paye, Colts ($13.4MM)
  22. CB Caleb Farley, Titans ($12.47MM)
  23. T Christian Darrisaw, Vikings ($16MM)
  24. RB Najee Harris, Steelers ($6.79MM): Expected to be exercised
  25. RB Travis Etienne, Jaguars ($6.14MM)
  26. CB Greg Newsome, Browns ($13.38MM)
  27. WR Rashod Bateman, Ravens ($14.35MM): Extended through 2026
  28. DE Payton Turner, Saints ($13.39MM)
  29. CB Eric Stokes, Packers ($12.47MM)
  30. DE Greg Rousseau, Bills ($13.39MM)
  31. LB Odafe Oweh, Ravens ($13.25MM)
  32. LB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Buccaneers ($13.25MM)

* = Jets traded Wilson on April 22, 2024
** = 49ers traded Lance on August 25, 2023
*** = Bears traded Fields on March 16, 2024
**** = Patriots traded Jones on March 10, 2024
***** = Giants traded Toney on October 27, 2022

Notable 2024 Pro Bowl Incentives

The NFL released the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters last night. While the annual All-Star event has lost some of its luster (and is eyeing a significant revamping in 2024), a Pro Bowl selection is still a significant accomplishment for many players…especially from a financial standpoint.

There were a number of Pro Bowlers whose selections were tied to contract incentives. We’ve collected some of the notable Pro Bowl incentives below:

Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick didn’t have a traditional Pro Bowl incentive, but his selection will still result in more money. Per Corry, Reddick’s 2024 base salary will increase by $500K (from $13.75MM to $14.25MM) thanks to the Pro Bowl selection.

A handful of former first-round picks also boosted the value of their fifth-year options by earning their first Pro Bowl nod (via Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus): Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton, Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Ravens offensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum, Lions offensive lineman Penei Sewell, and Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon. Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner and Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain boosted the value of their fifth-round option to the maximum amount with a second Pro Bowl selection.

Beyond incentives, players also get some cash for just participating in the Pro Bowl event. As Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports writes, players on the winning team will earn $88K, while players on the losing team will get $44K. This even applies to Pro Bowl players who can’t participate since they’re playing in the Super Bowl.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/8/22

Today’s updates for the reserve/COVID-19 and practice squad/COVID-19 lists:

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/3/22

Here are Monday’s activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: OT Mike Remmers (remains on IR)

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: RB Raymond Calais (remains on IR)

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Lions Rule Out LT Taylor Decker

Taylor Decker will miss Sunday’s Lions opener due to an injury he suffered in practice this week. The Lions ruled out their longtime left tackle for Sunday’s game against the 49ers.

The sixth-year blocker suffered a hand injury during Wednesday’s workout. The Lions have not placed Decker on IR, which would sideline him for the season’s first three games, but their line will be weakened in Week 1. Decker met with doctors Friday, Eric Woodyard of ESPN.com notes.

This setback appears set to slide No. 7 overall pick Penei Sewell to left tackle. The rookie was to transition to a right tackle role with the Lions, despite having lined up on the left side at Oregon, but the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett notes Sewell has primarily worked as the team’s first-string left tackle in practice since Decker’s injury (Twitter link). The team is not planning a long-term switch, with Decker expected to retake his usual job once he returns to full strength.

Decker, 28, has missed just one game over the past three seasons. He has been Detroit’s left tackle starter since arriving as a first-round pick in 2016. It will be interesting to see how Sewell, 20, fares at his former position against the 49ers’ collection of edge rushers, after experiencing some acclimation issues at right tackle during the preseason.

Lions Sign Penei Sewell

The Lions have their first-round pick in the fold. On Wednesday, offensive tackle Penei Sewell agreed to terms on his rookie contract (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). 

Per the terms of his slot, the No. 7 overall pick will receive a four-year, $24.1MM fully guaranteed deal. That guaranteed sum includes a hefty $14.9MM signing bonus. There was little doubt that Sewell would sign — rookie contracts are fairly cookie-cutter, thanks to the slotting system. Still, agents and execs will sometimes haggle over the finer points, such as offset language.

Sewell opted out of Oregon’s 2020 season, but the 6’6″, 330-pound prospect was absolutely stellar in 2019. He surrendered zero sacks in the previous year and gave up just seven quarterback pressures in total. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus were also fond of his work. In 2019, Sewell finished No. 1 in the country with a run-blocking grade of 95.3 while placing third in pass-blocking (91.1).

The Outland Trophy winner was absent from the Lions’ rookie minicamp after testing positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, it sounds like he’s okay and will be able to join the rest of his teammates soon.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Sewell, Bateman

In a comprehensive piece, Adam Jahns of The Athletic details how Bears GM Ryan Pace, head coach Matt Nagy, and the rest of Chicago’s brain trust approached their quarterback situation this offseason. These types of behind-the-scenes stories are always worth a read, especially for fans of the team in question, and particularly notable here is that the club identified the No. 8 through No. 12 overall selections as the “sweet spot” to target a collegiate QB. Pace’s predraft research indicated that trying to acquire the Falcons’ No. 4 overall pick would require too much draft capital, but he didn’t want to start calling teams holding picks eight through 12 too early for fear of tipping his hand.

So he waited until the day of the draft to start making those calls, and while the early run on QBs pushed down quality players at other positions, Pace identified Ohio State QB Justin Fields as his top target. 11 Bears staffers filed reports on Fields, and all of them had very similar grades on him. Pace and Giants GM Dave Gettleman had worked out the parameters of a trade earlier in the day, and when Fields was still on the board after the Eagles leapfrogged the Giants — Pace feared Philadelphia might have been targeting Fields — Chicago and New York were able to swing a trade that brought the former Buckeye to the Windy City. Now, Pace and Nagy will hope that the bold maneuver will help them keep their jobs.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • Even though the Bears just signed Andy Dalton this offseason, they extended him a courtesy that the Packers did not extend to Aaron Rodgers when they drafted Jordan Love last year: they told Dalton that they might pick a QB. “I talked to [Dalton] earlier in the day on [the day of the draft], and we were just catching up,” Nagy said (via Albert Breer of SI.com). “And at the same time I said, ‘Hey, listen man, I have no idea which way this thing may go, you never know, but all positions are open and we can do a lot of different things, including at quarterback. So I just want you to understand that and be aware for that.'” Of course, the news couldn’t have come as a surprise to Dalton, who was signed to a one-year contract and who presumably has no delusions that the Bears acquired him as their quarterback of the future, but it’s the type of gesture that might have helped ease the strain on the Packers’ relationship with Rodgers.
  • The Lions‘ first-round pick, No. 7 overall selection Penei Sewell, has tested positive for COVID-19, as Sewell himself tweeted several days ago. He will therefore miss this weekend’s rookie minicamp, but at this point it sounds like he is either asymptomatic or else has mild symptoms, so there shouldn’t be any cause for concern.
  • The Packers selected Georgia CB Eric Stokes with the No. 29 overall pick of the draft, but if Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman had still been around, execs around the league believe he would have been the choice, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes (subscription required). Of course, taking a first-round receiver this year after selecting Love in the first round in 2020 might not have been enough to placate Rodgers. The Ravens took Bateman off the board with the No. 27 overall selection.
  • The Vikings have been busy over the past couple of days, trading cornerback Mike Hughes to the Chiefs and signing first-round pick Christian Darrisaw.

Draft Notes: Fields, Giants, Saints, Cowboys

Penei Sewell loomed as the Panthers‘ first-round target, but when the Lions selected the Oregon tackle, Albert Breer of SI.com notes the team moved into a Jaycee Horn-vs.-Justin Fields debate. The Panthers’ need at cornerback — in a division featuring the likes of Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin — helped steer them to Horn. Fields, who went three picks later after the Bears traded up for him, was in the mix. The Panthers did not want to force a quarterback investment, Breer adds. While GM Scott Fitterer indicated the Panthers could take a quarterback even after trading for Sam Darnold, the team expressed considerable interest in Deshaun Watson prior to off-field issues squashing his trade market. A Fields pick would have made revisiting that pursuit more difficult. It cannot be assumed the embattled Texans quarterback will be available anytime soon, but the Panthers did not take themselves out of a potential market Thursday night.

Entering Round 2, here is the draft latest:

  • The Eagles were correct in assuming the Giants were planning to select DeVonta Smith at No. 11. Big Blue would have taken the Alabama superstar there, Breer notes. Howie Roseman engineered an intra-NFC East trade-up with the Cowboys, moving up two spots for Smith. The Eagles, whose Week 17 quarterback strategy came under fire re: the Giants’ unusual playoff pursuit, saw another move of theirs affect Big Blue. Philly pair Smith with 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor. The Giants still took a wideout at No. 20 (Kadarius Toney).
  • Prior to the Bears executing a successful trade-up with the Giants, moving from No. 20 to No. 11, they discussed a likely similar deal with the Cowboys, per Breer. The Cowboys did not want to take themselves out of adding a player on whom they placed a first-round grade; sliding down to 20 may well have done that. Dallas ended up with Micah Parsons at 12.
  • The Giants were busy at No. 11. Ahead of Dave Gettleman‘s first-ever trade-down (in nine drafts as a GM), he heard from the Vikings and Saints, Breer adds. The Saints, who had already seen top targets Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II drafted, were linked to quarterbacks as well. New Orleans did offer one future first-round pick but did not include a second future first-rounder in its trade-up proposals. As a result, the Saints did not come particularly close to trading up Thursday. After the Chargers drafted Rashawn Slater, the Vikings ended up trading down.
  • After the Ravens traded their second-round pick to the Chiefs in the Orlando Brown deal, Eric DeCosta does not expect to move back into the round, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Ravens did not make any trades Thursday night, winding up with Rashod Bateman and Odafe Oweh.
  • Some teams are not comfortable with Alabama center Landon Dickerson‘s medcials, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). The Steelers are one of the teams a bit leery on Dickerson, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. Pittsburgh saw 11-year center Maurkice Pouncey retire this offseason. While the team has multiple lower-profile replacement candidates — B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer — Dickerson will enter the NFL as a high-end prospect, albeit one coming off a December ACL tear.

Lions Draft Penei Sewell At No. 7

With the No. 7 overall pick, the Lions selected Oregon tackle Penei Sewell. Sewell opted out of the 2020 season, but the 6’6″, 330-pound prospect was absolutely stellar in 2019. 

Sewell did not surrender a single sack in ’19 and gave up just seven quarterback pressures in total. There was little doubt that he’d be taken somewhere in the top ten, but he solidified his status earlier this month by announcing that he’d be willing to play on either side. Some took that as a sign that he’d be Miami bound. But, after the Dolphins went wide receiver at No. 6, the Lions pounced on Sewell instead.

His film impressed scouts and the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus backed it all up. One year ago, Sewell finished first in the nation with a run-blocking grade of 95.3 while placing third in pass-blocking (91.1).

Now, the Outland Trophy winner will head to the Lions, a team that sorely needed a premier tackle. On Friday, they can start addressing the rest of their needs, including help at wide receiver.