Romeo Okwara contract details show team-friendly cap hit in 2021

Pride of Detroit

The Detroit Lions re-signed Romeo Okwara to a three-year, $39 million deal last Monday and this morning Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, shared the details of the deal on social media.

Motivated by wanting to play with his brother Julian, Romeo re-signed with the Lions early in the free agency period. His contract is very reasonable for an edge rusher, especially after the season he had in 2020. While he smiled and dodged the question of giving the Lions a hometown discount, it’s now clear he was very willing to be flexible with his contract structure.

Here’s how it breaks down:

2021

Base Salary: $1 million (all $1M is guaranteed)
Signing bonus: $3.5M

Cap hit: $4.5M

2022

Base Salary: $11M ($5M guaranteed, an additional $5M guaranteed if on roster March 19)
Signing bonus: $3.5M

Cap hit: $14.5M

2023

Base Salary: $11M
Signing bonus: $3.5M

Skill bonus: $2M (he can earn this additional money if he hits a predetermined sack total)

Cap hit: $14.5M

2024 VOID Year

Base Salary: $0
Signing bonus: $3.5 M

Cap hit: $3.5M

Okwara enters 2021 with a low cap hit, but he also carries $20M in guarantees (salary and signing bonus). When 2022 rolls around, his base salary bumps up to $11 million, but the $14.5M cap hit is still reasonable for an edge rusher. At this time he will still have $15.5 million in guarantees but an additional $5M will be guaranteed if he is on the roster the third day of the 2022 new year, increasing his guaranteed money to $20.5M for that season.

Okwara will carry $7M in guarantees in 2023, roughly half his cap hit, so there is a potential out if he struggles. Another wrinkle this season is the “sack bonus”, which at this time is not totally clear. We don’t know how many sacks he needs, or the timeframe in which he has to accomplish this, but what we do know is that if he achieves this bonus, an additional $2M in guaranteed money would be added to his 2023 cap total.

Finally, Okwara has a voided year in 2024, which means he will not be on the roster but the Lions will still incur a $3.5M cap hit. The voided year strategy is beneficial for the Lions because it allows them to spread out his signing bonus over a fourth-year—essentially freeing up an extra $1.17M in cap space per year—while it has no impact on Okwara, as he will have already been paid that money when he signed his deal.

This is a solid deal for both sides as it gives the Lions some much need cap space in 2021, but the structure increases the odds Okwara will be on Detroit’s roster for the duration of the contract.

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