The Detroit Lions wanted to improve their secondary this offseason and doing so not only meant adding players, but letting some go. Former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah was traded to the Atlanta Falcons in return for a fifth-round pick. Lions head coach Dan Campbell stands by his decision to let Okudah go given what Detroit is looking to accomplish in 2023.
Losing a former first-rounder in exchange for a fifth-round pick is never the most ideal situation, but with the recent additions to Detroit's defense this is what made the most sense.
"We knew we wanted to upgrade the secondary and we've been pleased with the upgrades that we've made, man," Campbell said (via Pride Of Detroit). "Bringing in Sutton and Moseley, and then getting C.J. Johnson from Philadelphia, we feel like we really beefed up that area. And we still got Jerry Jacobs, we got Will Harris back. So we've got a group and we just felt pretty good with the additions we made."
In 15 games, Okudah's completion percentage allowed on targets was 59.7, allowing 681 yards on those completions. One receiving touchdown was scored on him and he ended the year with one interception.
Keeping him was not worth the $10 million cap hit and while they did not save a ton of money, both sides got a better scenario as the end result.
"We really felt like, at this time, this is probably the best thing for us and for Jeff," Campbell said. "A new change of scenery and give him a fresh start. We felt really good about our guys. And, look, man, I appreciate Jeff. Jeff was a pro, he came to work, he busted his ass. Man, he worked at it and he was coming off an injury last year and we just felt like, 'You know what, this is the right thing to do right now.'"
Okudah tore his Achilles after just one game in the 2021 season and while he started off the 2022 season strong there were some clear struggles as the year progressed. An elbow injury caused him to miss Week 18.
The Lions ended the 2022 season in impressive fashion, winning eight of their last 10 games to finish 9-8 and bumping the Green Bay Packers out of the playoffs with the regular-season finale victory.
Detroit has been adamant that it is a team to watch and a team to fear. They're not "the (bleeping) same old Lions anymore" as Taylor Decker said last season and their aggressiveness during free agency has proved that they have the urgency to win now.
The Lions last made the playoffs in 2016 and have not won a playoff game since 1991. These changes give them a better chance of ending their postseason drought. Per Caesars Sportsbook, the Lions currently have the eighth best odds to win the Super Bowl at +2500. Caesars Sportsbook has them as the best odds to win the NFC North (+155), -130 on winning over 9.5 games and -170 to make the playoffs.