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Romeo Okwara returning to Lions on three-year, $39M deal

The Detroit Lions are retaining their most productive pass rusher.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Lions and Romeo Okwara have agreed to terms on a three-year contract worth $39 million, per a source informed of the situation.

Okwara's deal includes $20 million fully guaranteed at signing, a $14 million signing bonus, $26 million over the first two years and another $5 million guaranteed to injury that becomes fully guaranteed next March, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported.

A former undrafted free agent with the New York Giants in 2016, Okwara was waived in 2018. He landed in Detroit in 2019, where his career took off.

The 25-year-old exploded in 2020, earning 10 sacks, leading a bad Lions defense. Okwara boasts athleticism and relentlessness off the edge. He was a bright spot on an otherwise lousy pass rush last season. Okwara generated 61 total pressures, fifth-most among edge rushers, to go along with his 10 sacks. For comparison, the next closest Lions defenders earned 21 pressures (linebacker Reggie Ragland) and four sacks (Everson Griffen).

In a stacked edge market, Okwara ranked No. 20 on Gregg Rosenthal's Top 101 Free Agents list of 2021.

The Lions desperately needed to retain an underrated talent like Okwara on a defense that sorely lacked playmakers. Re-signing Okwara is the first big move for general manager Brad Holmes on a defense that requires a lot of work to remake.

Okwara was expected to have a healthy market had he hit free agency. Instead, Holmes and the Lions ensured they hung onto one of their best defenders before the market opened.

The contract is a huge payday and a good story for the former undrafted Okwara. The edge rusher gets to keep playing with his brother, Julian Okwara, a third-round pick by Detroit in 2020. The Okwara brothers are building blocks for a defense that needs an upgrade in talent at every level.

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