Lions’ Romeo Okwara lands prominently on list of cut candidates

Credit: PackersNews-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: PackersNews-USA TODAY Sports /

Romeo Okwara’s future as a Detroit Lion is definitely up in the air, and he has popped up prominently on a couple fresh lists of cut candidates.

To say Romeo Okwara has had an up-and-down tenure as a Detroit Lion would be putting it mildly. Claimed off waivers from the New York Giants in 2018, he led the Lions with 7.5 sacks that season. After getting just 1.5 sacks in 2019, he led the Lions in sacks again in 2020 with 10.

Okwara was rewarded with a three-year, $37 million contract extension in 2021, by the then-new Lions’ regime. In Week 4 of the 2021 season he suffered a torn Achilles, which sidelined him for over a year.

In his second game last season, Week 15 against the New York Jets, Okwara had two sacks and earned a SideLion Report game ball for his performance. Then he had zero sacks over the final three games of the season.

As the Lions have added pieces to their defensive line, Okwara has been largely out of the mix the last two seasons. He is now entering the final year of his contract (with a void year in 2024).

Romeo Okwara lands prominently on list of NFL cut candidates

Okwara was prominently mentioned in our prediction of who the next Lions cap casualty will be, before Halapoulivaati Vaitai was the prediction. But Okwara is definitely on shaky ground.

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA TODAY is out with a list of 15 notable NFL veterans who could be cut. There are some very big names there–Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Keenan Allen–but Okwara made it.

"The trimming in Detroit began Thursday with the release of defensive tackle Michael Brockers, and it likely won’t end there. Despite already being well under the cap, the Lions can create more space for free-agent spending by parting ways with Okwara, who has played in just nine games the last two years due to a torn Achilles. The Lions’ defensive youth movement likely will continue this offseason – perhaps with a defensive end chosen with one of the team’s four picks among the top 55 selections – and the team can save $7.5 million with a split."

A pre-June 1 cut of Okwara will clear $7.5 million in cap space, with $7 million in dead money. Post-June 1, it would shift to $11 million in cleared cap space and $3.5 million in dead money. There would be $3.5 million more in dead money in 2024, thanks to spreading out the cap hit for his signing bonus into that void year.

But ultimately, those are all financial distinctions that will make little difference for the Lions as they consider what to do with Okwara. A contract restructure, or his agreeing to take an outright pay cut to stay, are possibilities.

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