The signs were there that Jeff Okudah could be traded, and the Detroit Lions have indeed sent him to the Atlanta Falcons for a late draft pick.
The Detroit Lions add not one, not two but three notable pieces to their secondary in free agency, in Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and C.J. Gardner-Johnson. They had a decision looming on his fifth-year option. So it’s not a huge surprise cornerback Jeff Okudah is being traded, with ESPN’s Field Yates reporting he’s going to the Atlanta Falcons.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Lions will get a 2023 fifth-round pick in the deal.
Okudah was taken third overall in the 2020 draft by the Lions. Entering the NFL in the season that was most-impacted by COVID, playing under Matt Patricia and dealing with injuries got him off to a less than ideal start. Then his second season was ended in Week 1 by a torn Achilles.
Early last season, Okudah was healthy and proved capable in coverage and as a run stopper. But his level of play fell off late, and he was benched in favor of Mike Hughes–who signed with the Falcons in free agency.
Lions send Jeff Okudah to Falcons in deal that should help all parties
The Lions were clearly aiming to move on from another vestige of the previous regime. Okudah was a poor fit for Aaron Glenn’s defensive scheme, and was in need of a change of scenery. The Falcons will take a minimal gamble on a former top-five overall pick, parting with just a Day 3 draft pick. A beneficial deal for all.
The Lions will eat just shy of $5.5 million in dead money by trading Okudah. But his guaranteed salary travels with him, so that roughly $5.1 million in cap space will be cleared. So there’s a solid chunk of cap space gained, but the financial aspects are in the background of this trade.
The trade brings an official end Okudah’s disappointing tenure in Detroit. And the end was coming sooner or later, with virtually no chance they were going to pick up his $11.5 million option for 2024.