Lions Reach Decision About Franchise Tag for Young Defender: Report

Romeo Okwara

Getty Romeo Okwara celebrates a sack on Mitchell Trubisky.

The Detroit Lions aren’t handing out a franchise tag to wideout Kenny Golladay, and another member of the team reportedly isn’t getting the tag treatment, either.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Lions won’t be using the franchise tag on Romeo Okwara. The defensive end was the second key decision the Lions had to make this week, and it’s clear now that the pass rusher will be heading to free agency.

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Okwara will now join Golladay in free agency, and could be one of the top pass rushers that is hitting the market. It also seems unlikely the Lions will be using their franchise tag after letting these players walk.

Will the Lions look to bring Okwara back once free agency begins? It’s hard to say, and perhaps they look to on a new contract aside from the franchise tag. Even such, it seems as if the team is getting set to embark on a fresh start and a complete clean slate from the previous regime and their decision making.

Romeo Okwara Accounted for Most of Lions Pressure Up Front

Okwara has been a fixture up front for the last few seasons after he was a waiver wire find of the team, and has come into his own as a pass rusher since. Okwara has become great playing for the Lions, and has felt like the team’s only viable pass rush threat in parts of his best seasons on the field.

There’s a new stat that all but completely proves this is the case. According to Pro Football Focus, Okwara himself accounted for 28.9% of the team’s pressures up front last season. That’s a pretty wild total realizing how many edge defenders there are on a team.

Okwara carried the Detroit attack last season from a sack and pressure perspective, and his consistency was the only reason the Lions were able to maintain pressure at all on the pocket. It’s pretty obvious that the Lions will miss Okwara in a major way next season given these numbers if he does not return.

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Romeo Okwara Stats

If there’s been one dangerous pass rusher this past season for the Lions that has stepped up, it’s Okwara, who came alive at the right time for Detroit most of the 2020 season. As a whole this season, Okwara managed to collect the most sacks of any Lions player (10) and he also thrives on creating pressure and panic in the pocket. With this in mind, it’s fair to say that Okwara figures to drive the bus for Detroit in terms of pass rush and has been going it alone most of the time in Detroit. That could only boost his stock when all is said and done this offseason.

As a whole, Okwara has 16 sacks to this point in his career coming into 2020 and lost a few seasons to nagging injuries. This season, he looked all but sure to pass his high water mark of 7.5 sacks from a few years back and that happened easily.

Okwara will represent a young pass rusher coming into his own on the market, and knowing that, he could be a popular player when all is said and done. Rapoport hinted that he might attract plenty of interest, so the league is probably pleased he is not getting the tag.

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