The Detroit Lions‘ new regime opted not to use their franchise tag on any of their pending free agents this week. The two names on top of that list being wide receiver Kenny Golladay and defensive end Romeo Okwara.
While the Lions did recently sign Tyrell Williams at the wide receiver spot to help cushion the possible blow of losing Golladay to free agency, the same can’t be said for Okwara. If Detroit decides to let their sack leader from last season hit the open market, an edge rusher might top the Lions’ list of team needs heading into free agency next week.
Luckily, there’s one pass rusher of note scheduled to hit free agency that has ties to the new coaching staff in Motown. And that’s 26-year old defensive end Trey Hendrickson. A third-round selection by the New Orleans Saints back in 2017 out of Florida Atlantic, Hendrickson was a rotational rusher his first three seasons in the NFL.
Hendrickson finally earned the starting gig in 2020 and registered a career-high 13.5 sacks for the Saints as a 15-game starter last year. New Lions head coach Dan Campbell spent the past five seasons in New Orleans as an assistant to Saints head coach Sean Payton. New Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn also spent the last five seasons in New Orleans as the defensive back coach.
Campbell and Glenn know more than most about Hendrickson and what he is capable of. And while retaining Okwara could offer the defense some stability, a free agent from the Saints would also offer the coaching staff familiarity.
In a recent free agency simulation by ESPN.com, Michael Rothstein offer Hendrickson a mock four-year, $45 million contract to sign in Detroit. Just like the Lions’ previous regime, Rothstein believes adding Hendrickson to the squad could help establish a new culture in the locker room. Spotrac.com estimates the young pass rusher’s market value as a free agent at approximately $10.3 million in average annual salary.