It was eye-opening for some people to see Romeo Okwara listed third string on the Detroit Lions "unofficial" depth chart heading into the preseason opener. But such is life when you've had two seasons impacted by a torn Achilles, and edge rusher is now arguably the deepest position group on this roster.
His brother Julian's three-sack outing in the preseason opener against the New York Giants made it easy to overlook what he did. But the elder Okwara had one sack himself in the game, with six total quarterback pressures as he played a team-high 44 defensive snaps.
Okwara reportedly looked good in Wednesday's joint practice against the Jaguars, before missing Thursday's session for an unknown reason. But per head coach Dan Campbell, the absence did not seem to be injury-related.
"Romeo is doing some really good things and it feels like he’s very much back to what he was and so he’s somebody we’ll talk about this week, how much does he play, all those things we’ll talk more about tonight."- Dan Campbell
With the Lions set to rest starters for Saturday's game against Jacksonville, someone has to play. So Okwara is likely to get some significant run again.
Detroit Lions rumors: Romeo Okwara being showcased for a trade?
There's certainly a strong case for keeping good depth wherever you can, with injury protection in mind. And Okwara is not in position, nor would he, demand anything--including a trade. But....
It's highly speculative, as such things there can often be. But as part of his list of one player each NFL team should put on the trade block this preseason, Matt Holder of Bleacher Report had Okwara as his player for the Lions. The case is rooted in his being a backup, but in general an asset with 10 sacks in his last healthy season.
The massive pay cut Okwara took this offseason makes it easier to trade him in the final year of his contract. There would be a $3.5 million dead money hit to trade him, but the Lions can clear about $2.1 million in cap space too.
Trading Okwara just because you can/could is not a great idea, and if he's healthy he can definitely help the Lions' pass rush. But the idea of trading him is not far-fetched in a broad sense. The second preseason game could be an opportunity to showcase him for other teams who aren't as fortunate in terms of edge rusher depth. In some sense too, even though he said he loves Detroit, Okwara may not mind a clearer opportunity to play a lot if it's out there.