Skip to main content

Lions HC Dan Campbell: Trading Jeff Okudah 'right thing to do right now'

The Detroit Lions traded former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons this week, receiving a fifth-round pick in return.

The decision to part ways with the former first-round pick came after the Lions spent the offseason upgrading their secondary, signing Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

Joining The Rich Eisen Show on Thursday, head coach Dan Campbell was asked about the reasoning behind the trade.

"We knew we wanted to upgrade the secondary and we've been pleased with the upgrades that we've made, man," Campbell told Eisen, via Pride Of Detroit. "Bringing in Sutton and Moseley, and then getting C.J. Johnson from Philadelphia, we feel like we really beefed up that area. And we still got Jerry Jacobs, we got Will Harris back. So we've got a group and we just felt pretty good with the additions we made."

The bulked-up back end left Okudah projected to battle for a depth spot. A $10 million cap hit for a potential CB4 simply didn't make sense for the Lions.

Trading the former first-round pick didn't save much cash -- especially with the Lions reportedly eating a portion of the final year of his deal to get the trade done -- but Campbell said giving Okudah a fresh start made sense for all parties.

"We really felt like, at this time, this is probably the best thing for us and for Jeff," Campbell said. "A new change of scenery and give him a fresh start. We felt really good about our guys. And, look, man, I appreciate Jeff. Jeff was a pro, he came to work, he busted his ass. Man, he worked at it and he was coming off an injury last year and we just felt like, 'You know what, this is the right thing to do right now.'"

Tearing his Achilles after one game in 2021, Okudah bounced back, playing solidly early in the 2022 campaign. But he began to struggle down the stretch, getting burned more as the season went on. He missed the Lions' Week 18 triumph over the rival Packers due to an elbow injury.

Okudah entered the NFL with enticing athleticism and showed a willingness to play against the run, but he wasn't a great fit in the Lions' scheme under Aaron Glenn the past two seasons. Detroit did well to upgrade the position this offseason, even if trading a former first-rounder for a fifth-round pick stings. The corner heads to Atlanta, where he could make a nice pairing with fellow 2020 first-rounder A.J. Terrell on a remade Falcons defense.

Related Content