Romeo Okwara

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Lions Re-Sign Romeo Okwara

Two years ago today, the Lions agreed to a two-year deal with Romeo Okwara. At the time, the move flew under the radar a bit (it got only three brief paragraphs on the team’s website). Fast forward to today, and the new Lions brass is probably disappointed that their predecessors hadn’t made a longer commitment.

The 2016 undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame spent the first two seasons of his career with the Giants, appearing in 22 total games. After getting waived prior to the 2018 campaign, he caught on with the Lions, and he proceeded to have a career year for his new team. Okwara appeared in 15 games (14 starts), compiling 39 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. The defensive lineman was one of the few standouts for a lowly Lions squad, but the team still had some hurdles to overcome in order to retain the player.

Okwara was set to become a restricted free agent following that 2018 campaign. Instead of placing a second-round (or even first-round) tender on the player, the team paid him a bit more in order to retain his services without any competition. The front office ultimately gave the defensive end a two-year deal worth $6.8MM, including $3.4MM in guaranteed money. It was a bit of gamble for the team, as Okwara was solely getting paid off of one productive season.

The defensive lineman didn’t necessarily live up to that deal in 2019, as he was relegated to a rotational role and finished with only 1.5 sacks. However, he rebounded with a career year in 2020, finishing with career-highs in tackles (44), sacks (10.0), and forced fumbles (three). The 25-year-old was especially productive down the stretch; per Pro Football Focus, Okwara finished with the third-highest pass-rush grade from Week 12 on, and he posted the ninth-highest grade for the entire season.

As a result of this production, Okwara is expected to be a popular name in unrestricted free agency this offseason. Detroit would certainly be a suitor…he’ll already account for $900K on their books thanks to previous signing bonus machinations. It sounds like new defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is also a fan of the defensive lineman.

“Romeo had 10 sacks (last year),” Glenn said (via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com). “So, he’s a pressure player. Every team in this league, every coach in this league, wants a pressure player. So if he’s back with us, which we hope we get the chance to get him back, we’re going to have him rushing the quarterback. That’s what he does best. Again, we’re going to put him in position to do what he do best and that’s to get after the quarterback.”

Hindsight is obviously 20/20, and the Lions may have raised some eyebrows had they originally signed Okwara for more than two years back in 2019. However, exactly two years after that contract was signed, we’re sure GM Brad Holmes and his staff are wishing they had another year to evaluate the young defensive lineman.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Smith, Kelce, Johnson

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed contracts from around the NFL:

  • Donovan Smith, T (Buccaneers): Three years, $41.25MM. $27MM fully guaranteed. Guaranteed 2019 base salary of $7MM with a $5.5MM roster bonus. Guaranteed $14.5MM base salary in 2020. Non-guaranteed $14.25MM base salary in 2021. $5MM of 2019 salary deferred until 6/15/20. $3MM of 2020 salary deferred until 3/5/21. Deferrals have no impact on salary cap (Twitter link via Dan Graziano of ESPN.com).
  • Jason Kelce, C (Eagles): Extended through 2021. $7.57MM signing bonus. 2019 base salary reduced from $6.5MM to $930K. 2020 base salary reduced from $7MM to $1.5MM with a $2MM roster bonus. $500K playing time escalator available in 2020 for playing 90% of offensive snaps. 2021 base salary of $5.5MM (Twitter links via Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia).
  • Denzelle Good, OL (Raiders): Extended through 2019. One-year, $1.7MM. $500K signing bonus. $200K per-game roster bonuses. $100K workout bonus. $1.2MM available via playtime incentives (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal).
  • Lane Johnson, T (Eagles): Restructured contract. Created $8.2MM in cap space by converting $10.045MM of his 2019 base salary into a signing bonus. Base salary is now $805K (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). Added voidable years in 2022-23 (Twitter link via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer).
  • Mike Person, OL (49ers): Three years, $8.25MM. $2.45MM fully guaranteed. $1MM roster bonus, $1.45MM fully guaranteed 2019 base salary. $250K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com).
  • Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): Two years, $6.8MM. $2.705MM signing bonus. 2019 base salary of $720K fully guaranteed. $500 workout bonus in 2019 (Twitter link via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com).

Lions Agree To Deal With DE Romeo Okwara

The Lions have agreed to a two-year deal with defensive end Romeo Okwara, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweets

Pelissero notes the deal will pay more than a second-round RFA tender and has incentives on top of that. Had the two sides not come to an agreement, it was likely the team might have need to place a first-round tender on him to keep him off the market.

This was a big move for the Lions, who needed pass-rush help going into the offseason with defensive end Ezekiel Ansah testing free agency.

Undrafted after coming out of Notre Dame in 2016, Okwara caught on with the Giants and spent two years in New York as a reserve defensive lineman. Claimed off waivers from the Giants shortly before the 2018 season, Okwara impressed in his first taste of action with Detroit, starting 14 games and registering a career-high 7.5 sacks and 39 total tackles.

Lions Waive Zettel, Claim Okwara

Anthony Zettel started 16 games for the Lions last season but is headed to the waiver wire. The Lions jettisoned the third-year defensive lineman to make a successful waiver claim for Romeo Okwara, whom the Giants recently cut, per Field Yates of ESPN (on Twitter).

Zettel was listed as a backup defensive end on Detroit’s Week 1 depth chart, and given his experience, he might be intriguing as a waiver add for another team by Thursday.

A defensive end out of Notre Dame, Okwara started four Giants games as a rookie. At 23, he’s three years younger than Zettel despite both being third-year players. Okwara was a 2016 UDFA, while Zettel went off the board in the sixth round.

Pro Football Focus graded Zettel as a top-50 edge defender last season and viewed the Penn State product as one of the position’s better run defenders. He registered 6.5 sacks in his second year.

Okwara played in six games for the 2017 Giants. He has one career sack, recorded as a rookie, and 24 total stops.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/4/18

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Washington Redskins

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/19/17

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

  • Signed off Broncos‘ practice squad: OL Dillon Day
  • Waived: FB Joe Kerridge

New York Giants

New York Jets

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Redskins

  • Promoted to active roster: S Fish Smithson
  • Placed on injured reserve: S Montae Nicholson