Jeff Okduah is on the move.
The Lions are trading the former No. 3 overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for a 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 159), NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday, per a source.
The compensation for Okudah, who is entering his fourth NFL season in 2023, seems to be low for a player selected inside the top five choices of a draft, but fits what the cornerback has produced to this point. The former Ohio State star has struggled to stay on the field for much of his career, playing in more than nine games just once in his three seasons. He's registered two interceptions in 25 career games, and 2023 was shaping up to be a pivotal season for him.
The writing was at least somewhat on the wall for him in Detroit, though, where coaches didn't shy from acknowledging reality.
"He is a young player," Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said of Okudah in March during the NFL Scouting Combine. "He still has a ways to go. He came in and got hurt his first year. Then obviously he got hurt his second year. He had a chance to really play this year and he understands there's always going to be competition and we're always going to create that competition."
Glenn was providing plenty of tea leaves for media members. Later that month, Detroit attacked free agency with plenty of purpose, signing two starting-caliber corners in Emmanuel Moseley and Cameron Sutton, adding safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and re-signing defensive back Will Harris.
Suddenly, there wasn't much room for Okudah. Atlanta capitalized, sending a Day 3 pick to the Lions for a corner who needed a fresh start and an opportunity to compete for a job. Detroit, meanwhile, shipped away a player the current regime did not select, and unloaded $5.18 million in remaining guaranteed money owed to Okudah.
Okudah joins a secondary that has already welcomed one big-name addition this offseason in safety Jessie Bates III. He won't walk into a starting job in Atlanta, but could play a key depth role behind A.J. Terrell and compete with 33-year-old veteran Casey Hayward for the opening opposite Terrell.
Atlanta has until May 1 to decide whether it wants to pick up Okudah's fifth-year option. At this point, it seems unlikely, but Tuesday's trade stands as a mutually beneficial deal that wasn't all that surprising to the folks in Michigan.