Romeo Okwara

Lions Hoping For Midseason Jameson Williams Return

The Lions made the expected move of shifting Jameson Williams to their reserve/non-football injury list Tuesday. The first-round pick tore an ACL in the national championship game and was never expected to start the season on time.

Detroit is, however, hoping for a midseason Williams debut, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Williams, this year’s No. 12 overall pick, must miss at least four games because of Tuesday’s transaction.

GM Brad Holmes greenlit a 20-spot trade-up in the first round for Williams, who dominated in his one season at Alabama. After sitting behind Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Co. at Ohio State, Williams transferred and became the Crimson Tide’s top pass catcher in 2021. The import speedster caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns, teaming with John Metchie to help Bryce Young win the Heisman Trophy. Both receivers went down, however, before season’s end. Metchie, chosen 44th overall by the Texans, will not play in 2022, announcing a leukemia diagnosis.

Amon-Ra St. Brown and D.J. Chark reside as Jared Goff‘s top wideouts to start the season, but if Williams’ rehab goes according to plan, the Lions should be able to see a handful of games from their highest-drafted receiver since Calvin Johnson (2007).

The Lions also placed edge defenders Romeo Okwara and Josh Paschal and fullback Jason Cabinda on the reserve/PUP list, sidelining the trio for the season’s first four games. Okwara suffered a torn Achilles in Week 4 of last season. During spring workouts, Paschal aggravated a core injury initially sustained while at Kentucky and underwent offseason surgery. The Lions will be careful with their second-round pick, leaving Aidan Hutchinson as the only first- or second-round Detroit draftee set for September action.

Lions Place Three Players On PUP, Two On NFI List

The Lions are the latest team to announce the list of players who will be sidelined for the start of training camp this week. An announcement on their website confirms three additions to the active/PUP list, and a pair of players who are now on the non-football injury list. 

Included among the former group is edge rusher Romeo OkwaraThe 27-year-old was limited to just four games played in 2021, as he suffered a torn Achilles in October. That marked a disappointing start to the three-year extension he signed the previous offseason, and left his training camp availability very much in doubt. When he returns, he will look to return to his 2020 form, in which he totalled a career-high 10 sacks.

Another key defender on the shelf is cornerback Jerry Jacobs. In his rookie season last year, the Arkansas alum started nine of 13 games as Jeff Okudah‘s campaign was limited to a single contest. Jacobs registered a 61% snap share before himself suffering a torn ACL in December. He should be in line for a significant role once again this season.

Second-round rookie Josh Paschal is the final inclusion on the PUP list. He was sidelined during spring workouts, though it is unclear if today’s move is the result of complications recovering from that injury, or of a new one. Head coach Dan Campbell said, “We’re trying to be smart with him,” adding that Paschal has “got a lower extremity injury.” The Kentucky product will feature in the team’s new-look defensive front when he is back on the field, which should be the case soon.

The situation is different, of course, for rookie wideout Jameson WilliamsThe No. 12 overall pick suffered an ACL tear in the national title game (which is why he is being placed on the NFI list, rather than PUP). General manager Brad Holmes recently spoke about his and the team’s optimism that a full recovery will be made. That likely won’t happen in time for the start of the regular season, but when he does make his debut, the Alabama product will add a dynamic speed element to Detroit’s passing attack.

The other NFI inclusion is linebacker Natrez Patrick, who signed as a free agent after spending the past two seasons with the Rams. He, like any of the other four players, can be activated at any time before the regular season kicks off.

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Defense

After looking at this year’s top salary cap numbers on the offensive side of the ball, here is a rundown of the players counting the most toward their teams’ payrolls in 2022.

As could be expected, the salary figures here start below the quarterbacks. A few pass rushers, however, are tied to notable cap hits. Those numbers that check in within the top 20 leaguewide regardless of position. With the exception of true nose tackles and pure slot cornerbacks, every defensive position is represented here.

Here are the top cap figures on the defensive side for the ’22 season:

  1. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $31.12MM
  2. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $29.42MM
  3. Joey Bosa, OLB (Chargers): $28.25MM
  4. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $27.3MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DT (Rams): $27MM
  6. Jalen Ramsey, CB (Rams): $23.2MM
  7. Deion Jones, LB (Falcons): $20.1MM
  8. Bud Dupree, OLB (Titans): $19.2MM
  9. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.85MM
  10. Javon Hargrave, DT (Eagles): $17.8MM
  11. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $17.5MM
  12. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $17.42MM
  13. Robert Quinn, DE (Bears): $17.14MM
  14. Matt Judon, OLB (Patriots): $16.5MM
  15. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $16MM
  16. Shaquill Griffin, CB (Jaguars): $16.44MM
  17. Tre’Davious White, CB (Bills): $16.4MM
  18. J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals): $15.9MM
  19. Marcus Peters, CB (Ravens): $15.5MM
  20. Carl Lawson, DE (Jets): $15.33MM
  21. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $15.1MM
  22. Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): $14.79MM
  23. Budda Baker, S (Cardinals): $14.78MM
  24. Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): $14.5MM
  25. Trey Hendrickson, DE (Bengals): $14.49MM
  • Illustrating how much the cap has climbed over the past several seasons, T.J. Watt is tied to a number nearly twice that of J.J. Watt, who has been tied to $16.7MM-per-year (a defender-record number in 2014) and $14MM-AAV deals as a pro. Trailing his older brother in Defensive Player of the Year honors, T.J. is signed to an edge defender-record $28MM-per-year accord.
  • Jones’ four-year Chiefs deal vaults from an $8.5MM cap number in 2021 to the league’s second-highest defensive figure this year. The standout defensive tackle’s cap hit accompanies Patrick Mahomes‘ $35.79MM number, which is well north of his 2021 figure, on Kansas City’s new-look payroll.
  • After two franchise tags, Williams scored a monster extension in 2021. The well-paid Giants D-lineman’s cap number this year is way up from his 2021 number ($9.4MM).
  • The Rams redid Donald’s contract last month, adding no new years to the through-2024 pact. The all-world defender’s cap hit actually decreases in 2023, dropping to $26MM
  • It is not certain Deion Jones will be back with the Falcons, who have jettisoned other Super Bowl LI cornerstones from the roster since the current regime took over in 2021. But they would save just $1MM were they to release the seventh-year linebacker.
  • To date, this represents the high-water mark for Mosley cap hits on his Jets deal, which at the time (2019) began a sea change for off-ball linebacker contracts. Mosley’s cap hit, on a pact that runs through 2024 because of the linebacker opting out of the 2020 season, increased by $10MM from 2021-22.
  • Hargrave is one of five Eagles pass rushers signed to veteran contracts. The ex-Steeler’s 2021 deal accompanies Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, and Fletcher Cox‘s new agreement on Philadelphia’s defensive front. As cap hits do not reflect average salaries, Hargrave is the only member of this quartet tied to an eight-figure cap number in 2022.
  • Quinn has also been connected to a departure, with the 31-year-old pass rusher skipping minicamp after it became known he would like to be traded away from the rebuilding team. His cap hit tops the Bears’ payroll. The Bears would save $12.9MM by trading Quinn, should another team sign up for taking on his full 2022 base salary.

Lions’ Romeo Okwara Done For Year

The Lions’ fear has been confirmed. Edge rusher Romeo Okwara has been diagnosed with a torn Achilles that will rule him out for the remainder of the season (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). 

The Lions will place Okwara on the injured reserve list, opening up a new spot on the 53-man roster. Replacing his production will be a different matter. Now at 0-4, the Lions’ odds of righting the ship have gone down drastically. They’ve already lost cornerback Jeff Okudah — also an Achilles tear — and they’re still awaiting Trey Flowers‘ return from shoulder and knee issues. Plus, Lions center Frank Ragnow was also forced out this week with a toe injury, though that seems to be a short-term matter.

Doctors — and non-medical professionals — could immediately tell that Okwara was in bad shape. The pass rusher was in obvious pain on Sunday and couldn’t put weight on his left leg as he hobbled off the field.

Okwara registered a career-high ten sacks last year with 44 stops, three forced fumbles, and 18 total quarterback hits. And, through the first three games this year, he was Detroit’s most productive defender. The Lions will be counting on Flowers (if healthy), Charles Harris, Julian Okwara, and Austin Bryant for support as they search for win No. 1.

Torn Achilles For Lions’ Romeo Okwara?

On Sunday, Lions head coach Dan Campbell told reporters that Romeo Okwara‘s lower leg injury “doesn’t look good.” More specifically, sources believe that the edge rusher has torn his Achilles (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport).

Tomorrow’s tests will confirm Okwara’s condition, but it doesn’t sound promising. A torn Achilles would instantly end the 26-year-old’s season and leave Detroit without one of its best defenders.

Okwara re-upped with the Lions on three-year, $39MM deal in March with $25MM guaranteed. He registered a career-high ten sacks last year, setting himself up for another impactful season.

Similar to Shaquil Barrett — who scored a $72MM deal from the Bucs — Okwara was hardly known just a few years ago. He missed the Giants’ 53-man cut in ’18, but he developed into something of a sack machine. The Lions didn’t get to see much of that in 2021, unfortunately. In his four games, Okwara has notched just one sack with six stops.

The Lions are now 0-4 after losing 24-14 to the Bears in Chicago. Already on the cusp of playoff irrelevance, they’ll try for their first win next week against the Vikings.

Lions Notes: Okwara, Onwuzurike, Tavai

The Lions have a new regime in place, led by head coach Dan Campbell. Often times, coaching changes put incumbent players on the chopping block, but that’s not necessarily the case for 2019 second-round pick Jahlani Tavai.

I tell you what, I’ve been really impressed with Jahlani,” linebackers coach Mark DeLeone said (via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News). “He’s been here (and) he’s been doing a great job. He’s in really good shape right now. I’m excited to work with him. I’m excited for us to get to OTAs and be able to continue with him because I’m really excited about him.”

I can just tell you when he came out when he was out on the field this week, he’s been doing well and I’ve really enjoyed working with him so far. He has a really good understanding of the game. I think he’s gonna be a nice piece for us to work within this scheme.”

The Lions are exploring their options at LB, including newcomer Alex Anzalone, who has history with Campbell. Tavai, meanwhile, has failed to impress in his two pro seasons. After notching two tackles, one forced fumble, and one interception as a rookie, Tavai didn’t make much of an impact last year. He appeared in all 16 games and made ten starts, but earned poor marks from Pro Football Focus across the board, including a dismal 35.7 score for his coverage. Still, the Lions seem to think that this can be a turning point for the young ‘backer.

More from Detroit:

  • The Lions’ new scheme will push Trey Flowers and Romeo Okwara to outside linebacker, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes.”He’s got a great skill set for what we’re trying to do,” defensive line coach Todd Wash said of Flowers, who inked a $90MM deal to play DE. “Every one of the players that we have on our defensive roster have a skill set. It’s going to be our job obviously as coaches to put them in that position to be successful, and I think Trey has that skill set as a defensive end in base and also in sub.” Flowers won’t be alone — there will be adjustments across the front seven as Detroit commits to a base 3-4 set under Campbell.
  • New second-round pick Levi Onwuzurike will be slotted in as a defensive end that moves inside on clear passing downs, defensive line coach Todd Wash says (Twitter link via Rogers).
  • Before the Lions signed Dan Campbell, they also explored Iowa State coach Matt Campbell as a candidate. But, despite a report to the contrary, it sounds like they never made a formal offer.

NFL Contract Details: Bolts, Griffin, Broncos

With the tampering period in full swing, here are some of the latest contract details to emerge:

  • Chargers C Corey Linsley: Five years, $62.5MM. $26MM guaranteed, $13MM signing bonus. Linsley is due $26MM through 2022, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Linsley’s 2021 base salary ($4MM) is fully guaranteed. His 2022 base salary ($9MM) is guaranteed for injury at signing; it becomes fully guaranteed if he is on the Bolts’ roster on Day 2 of the 2022 league year, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Jaguars CB Shaquill Griffin: Three years, $40MM. $23.5MM fully guaranteed, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. $12MM signing bonus, base salaries of $1MM, $11.5MM and $11.5MM. Griffin is due a $1MM roster bonus in 2023, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Lions DE Romeo Okwara: Three years, $39MM. $14MM signing bonus, $20MM fully guaranteed. Another $5MM will be guaranteed by next March, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).
  • Broncos DL Shelby Harris: Three years, $27MM. $9MM signing bonus. Harris’ $1MM 2021 base salary and $5.5MM of his $7.5MM 2022 base are guaranteed, Wilson tweets.
  • Patriots DB Jalen Mills: Four years, $24MM. $2.5MM signing bonus, $3MM base salary in 2021, $4.5MM in ’22. Williams will have $3.5MM of his 2022 base salary fully guaranteed, Breer tweets.
  • Panthers OL Cameron Erving: Two years, $10MM. This contract includes base salaries of $990K and $2.01MM, with Wilson tweeting a March 2022 roster bonus of $2.5MM is guaranteed.
  • 49ers CB Jason Verrett: One year, $5.5MM. $2MM signing bonus, $2.5MM base salary, $1MM in per-game roster bonuses. Another $1MM is available via incentives, Yates tweets.

Lions Re-Sign Romeo Okwara

The Lions have re-signed edge rusher Romeo Okwara to a three-year deal worth $39MM (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Okwara’s deal will become official later in the week and will bring him $25MM upon signing. 

Okwara posted a career-high ten sacks last year, setting himself up for a sizable pay day. His profile has been rising since 2018, when he recorded 7.5 sacks in his first year as a starter. He wasn’t able to match that in his 2019 encore, but he rebounded with perfect timing in 2020.

Similar to Shaquil Barrett — who just scored a $72MM deal from the Bucs — Okwara was hardly known just a few years ago. He missed the Giants’ 53-man cut in ’18, but he’s now going to earn eight figures per annum in Detroit.

Okwara may have sacrificed some potential upside by skipping the open market, but he has ample security in a system that works for him. He also gets to continue playing with his little brother, Julian Okwara.

Franchise Tag Roundup: Dupree, Seahawks, Bengals

Despite some whispers of a potential delay, the deadline for teams to place franchise tags on impending free agents was today at 5 p.m. CT. While a handful of players learned that they were slapped with the tag, a number of players naturally learned that they’ll be entering unrestricted free agency. We collected some of those notable players below:

  • The Steelers decided to not tag Bud Dupree, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The linebacker was hit with the tag last offseason. The former first rounder had another strong season for Pittsburgh, compiling eight sacks in only 11 games.
  • A pair of popular Seahawks players didn’t get franchised: running back Chris Carson (per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter) and cornerback Shaquill Griffin (per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter). The team is planning to (at least) make a pursuit at retaining Griffin, per Rapoport.
  • The Bengals didn’t franchise pass rusher Carl Lawson, per Rapoport (on Twitter). The former fourth rounder has collected 10.5 sacks over the past two seasons, with Rapoport opining that the lineman is “one of the NFL’s most underrated players” heading into free agency.
  • The Lions decided to not franchise Romeo Okwara, according to Rapoport (via Twitter). The 25-year-old had a breakout season in Detroit, setting career-highs in tackles (44) and sacks (10).
  • Despite leading the Cardinals with 12.5 sacks last season, Arizona didn’t franchise linebacker Haason Reddick (according to Schefter on Twitter). The former first-rounder also set career-highs in QB hits (16) and tackles for loss (15).
  • The Titans didn’t franchise tight end Jonnu Smith, per Schefter on Twitter. The 25-year-old has shown flashes during his brief NFL career, including a 2020 campaign where he set career-highs in receptions (41), receiving yards (448), and touchdowns (eight).

As a reminder, here are the players who have reportedly been tagged over the past 48 hours:

Lions GM On Kenny Golladay, Romeo Okwara

The Lions have only one franchise tag to give with two deserving players. When asked about tagging wide receiver Kenny Golladay or edge rusher Romeo Okwara, GM Brad Holmes indicated that the decision won’t be rushed. At the same time, it sounds like the Lions are hoping to keep both players in the fold for 2021. 

[RELATED: Looking Back On Romeo Okwara’s Last Contract]

We want to make the best decision for the Lions, and sometimes those decisions take a little bit longer,” Holmes said (via NFL.com). “We’re not gonna rush it, so whether it is a franchise tag on a Romeo or Kenny or whoever it is, we’ll definitely have a process in place that we believe in that we’re trusting … and we’re sticking to it and [making] sure it meets the Detroit Lions’ timeline and that’s really the thing that matters the most.”

The Lions’ WR group is due for a reset, one way or another. Like Golladay, veterans Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, and Mohamed Sanu are all out of contract, leaving youngster Quintez Cephus as the last one left. Golladay was limited to just five games last year, but his 2019 Pro Bowl campaign solidified him as a standout. He’s still only 27, and he’s just one year removed from a 65/1,190/11 stat line.

I don’t think there’s any debate that Kenny has shown the ability to be a No. 1 receiver in this league, with that skill-set that everybody knows that he has,” Holmes said. “There’s also been no debate that Kenny’s been at the forefront of our mind in terms of making sure that we make the best possible decision for no only the Lions, but for Kenny. You’ll hear about what we’ll be doing shortly.”

The Lions — and the other 31 teams in the league — must make their franchise tag decisions by March 9.