Detroit Lions, Romeo Okwara reportedly agree to 3-year, $39 million contract to stay

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Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
·2 min read
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One of the Detroit Lions' biggest free agents is sticking around to be part of the rebuild.

The Lions and defensive end Romeo Okwara agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract Monday, NFL Network reported.

The agreement came just after Monday's noon start to the free agent negotiating period, where Okwara was expected to be one of the top pass rushers on the market.

Just 25 years old, Okwara had a career-high 10 sacks last season, matching his total from his first four NFL seasons.

Romeo Okwara (95) of the Detroit Lions forces a fumble on a sack of Mitchell Trubisky (10) of the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field on Dec. 6, 2020, in Chicago.
Romeo Okwara (95) of the Detroit Lions forces a fumble on a sack of Mitchell Trubisky (10) of the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field on Dec. 6, 2020, in Chicago.

The Lions have struggled in the pass rush department in recent years, but Okwara was one of the NFL's breakout players in 2020. He forced four fumbles to go with his 10 sacks, had a career-high 44 tackles and blocked one punt.

"He’s a pressure player," new Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said last month. "Every team in this league, every coach in this league wants a pressure player. So if he’ll be back, which we hope we’ll get a chance to get him back, we’re going to have him rushing the quarterback. That’s what he does best."

By staying in Detroit, Okwara, whom the Lions claimed off waivers from the New York Giants at the start of the 2018 season, gets to play another season with his brother, Julian, a third-round draft pick last spring.

MORE ON OKWARAS: Julian and Romeo wouldn't be in NFL without their incredible mother

The Lions are overhauling their defense this spring, though most of the changes appear to coming in the back seven. Already, they've released starting linebacker Christian Jones and slot cornerback Justin Coleman, and they are expected to release or trade cornerback Desmond Trufant before the 2021 league year opens at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Romeo Okwara of the Detroit Lions celebrates after forcing a fumble against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field on Dec. 6, 2020, in Chicago.
Romeo Okwara of the Detroit Lions celebrates after forcing a fumble against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field on Dec. 6, 2020, in Chicago.

The Lions opened the day with 18 players scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency, including Okwara and wide receiver Kenny Golladay.

Golladay, the top receiver on the market, is expected to sign elsewhere after avoiding the franchise tag last week.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions re-sign Romeo Okwara on 3-year, $39 million deal