Jeff Okudah Never Met His Potential With Lions, But Now Has New Opportunity With The Falcons

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Jeff Okudah never really found a home with the Detroit Lions after being the No. 3 overall pick of the 2020 draft, which is the reason he’s been on the trade block much of the offseason.

Well, Okudah has a new home now.

The Lions traded Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons for a fifth-round pick in the coming draft, a league source confirmed.

DJ Moore #2 of the Carolina Panthers catches a touchdown pass against Dean Marlowe #21 of the Atlanta Falcons and Rashaan Evans #54 of the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 30, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Falcons Needed Help At Cornerback

The move makes sense for the Falcons because they have the salary cap space to take on Okudah’s contract and the need in the secondary to take on his potential. The Falcons are expected to have A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward as their starters, barring a competition.

The Falcons worked to improve the secondary this offseason by adding safety Jessie Bates III. But the team finished 26th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 231.9 pass yards per game, so more work is obviously in order.

The move makes sense for the Lions because they have clearly moved on from the idea of Okudah developing and the trade saves them the $5.18 million in guaranteed money Okudah is owed in 2023.

And the move makes sense for Okudah because he gets a fresh start after mostly failing to meet expectations in Detroit.

Jeff Okudah’s remaining contract year in Atlanta is an opportunity for him to show that what he’s put on tape and his injuries are a thing of the past. And he will be a free agent in 2024.

Okudah still has untapped potential at 24 years old. Much of his setbacks have come because of injuries, including an Achilles’ rupture in 2021. But the Lions had reached the point where they no longer wished to try to develop that potential.

DETROIT, MI – DECEMBER 11: Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell reacts to a call during the second quarter of an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions on December 11, 2022 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Lions Abandon Idea Of Developing Jeff Okudah

They signed Emmanuel Moseley from the 49ers and Cameron Sutton from the Steelers during free agency. That doesn’t even figure the addition of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, a safety who can cover in the slot, who was also a free agent addition.

The Lions also can address the secondary in the draft because they have four picks in the first two rounds, including the No. 6 and No. 18 overall selections in the first round.

So the Lions are in the middle of a reset for their secondary to make a charge at a playoff spot next year. Okudah was clearly not part of those plans.

The Falcons are in the middle of a reset for their secondary.

And Jeff Okudah’s trade is part of both. 

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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