“The game of football has been the largest part of my life for the greater of 18 years, 8 of which I have been fortunate enough to play at the professional level. 4 of those with my brother,” he added. “The experiences, friendships, and camaraderie I have been lucky enough to share with my teammates, coaches, and peers is something I will forever be grateful for. You all mean the world to me and I will continue to cheer you on for the rest of our lives!”

Romeo Okwara Sends Message to Detroit

After starting his career with the New York Giants in 2016, Okwara joined the Lions in 2018 and spent six seasons in Detroit. He made a strong first impression, starting 14 games in his first season while notching 7.5 sacks.

Okwara went on to have a career-best season in 2020, making 44 total tackles with 10 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Though the veteran defensive end saw a diminished role in recent seasons, he remained an important depth piece for Detroit’s defensive line and on special teams.

Okwara also gained a reputation as one of the league’s top foreign-born players. As ESPN’s Eric Woodyard noted, Okwara’s 23.0 career sacks rank fourth-most for a Nigerian-born player.

In his retirement message, Okwara thanked the Lions for taking a chance on him as a free agent six years ago.

“My heart is forever with you and the city of Detroit,” he wrote.

Okwara’s announcement came as something of a surprise, as he was expected to generate some interest in free agency. SI.com’s Anthony Licciardi suggested that he could be a target for the Buffalo Bills, who were in need of depth at defensive line after the departure of Leonard Floyd in free agency.

Lions Make Moves at Defensive Line