Okwara will get $25 million when he officially signs the contract, a massive payday for a player the Lions claimed off the waiver wire after roster cutdowns in 2018 from the New York Giants. Okwara almost immediately became an impact player for Detroit.
He had 7.5 sacks in his first year as a full-time starter in the NFL. After a down 2019, he rebounded with 10 sacks in 2020, setting him up for a big free-agency haul. This move also keeps him with his brother, Julian Okwara, whom the Lions drafted out of Notre Dame last year.
Over his five NFL seasons -- three in Detroit and two with the Giants -- Romeo Okwara started 28 games and posted 20 sacks, five forced fumbles, four passes defended and a fumble recovery.
Okwara prepared for his breakout 2020 season in an unconventional way because of the COVID-19 pandemic, working out daily at a friend's house in California. To prepare, he and Las Vegas Raiders linebacker James Onwualu used whatever they could find to train, including water jugs and a keg they found on Craigslist for presses.
Born in Nigeria, raised in North Carolina and educated at Notre Dame, Okwara found a passion for photography. His photos from Rescue 2 in Brooklyn -- a project he started when he was with the Giants and finished when he was with the Lions -- were displayed in the Leica Store gallery in New York in the fall of 2019.
The Lions also re-signed linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin to a one-year deal, a source told ESPN's Michael Rothstein. Reeves-Maybin had been one of the team's top special teams players since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 draft out of Tennessee.
In a new regime, it's possible he gets more of a look on defense considering Detroit is in the process of remaking its linebacker room.
Detroit also released veteran offensive lineman Joe Dahl on Monday. Dahl had primarily been a backup guard and center in 2020 after being a full-time starter for the club in 2019.