Romeo Okwara could be option for Bears
Jim Dedmon - USA Today Sports

Romeo Okwara could be option for Bears

by - Senior Writer -

Throughout the history of this game, players have been taking a pounding since the day they stepped on an NFL Field. That has led to several career-ending or altering injuries and has led to even more players starting to retire at a younger age than ever before. Look no further than former Detroit Lions EDGE rusher Romeo Okwara, who retired in March at the age of 28.

Some may be asking why a recently retired player is important to the Bears. Well, if the recent reports are accurate, it could be worth investigating, as Okwara is not only having second thoughts about coming out of retirement. Should he do that, he instantly becomes a low-cost option that plenty of teams like Chicago would target to help their pass-rushing needs.

Over his eight-year NFL career, the Nigerian-born player has spent time with the Giants and Lions, with his last six seasons coming in Detroit. Listed at 6-4 and 255 pounds, the former Notre Dame star is a bit undersized for an EDGE rusher, but given how today's game is played, that is becoming more common by the minute.

Okwara has been a very reliable player since breaking into the league. He has played in 92 games throughout his career, including 16 games last season. That is significant, as it was limited to just nine games in 2021 and 2022 combined, so getting back on the field healthy was a huge win for him in 2023. In his 16 games in 2023, Okwara didn't play a ton, as he had nine tackles and just two sacks.

The low sack totals have been a disturbing trend as of late, as he has just five total sacks in the past three seasons and lately in his career. Before these three seasons, Okwara was a budding star who registered a career-high ten sacks in 2020 and 7.5 more in 2018. Those two years alone account for more than 75% of his total production, but it's also an indication that he can make things happen when given an opportunity to play.

While guys like Demarcus Walker and Austin Booker are showing potential this offseason, Montez Sweat is still the lone all-pro caliber pass rusher on this team, which could be an issue if the young guys fail to develop. Although talking a player out of retirement may be a bit awkward, when you have a guy already considering it, the door is halfway open, which makes Okwara a low-cost fit for this team.

Although not that common, we have seen this story before where a player walks away from the game only to return a short whir with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the two most recent times. Marshawn Lynch and Randy Moss are two other players who have stepped away from the game only to return a few months later, but those four are either Hall of Farmers or borderline Hall of Farmers.

Okwara isn't anywhere close to that level, but prior to 2021, he was trending toward being one of the most underrated players in the game. The biggest difference between Okwara and those four is his age, as he is 28 years old and has plenty of football left should he want to continue. That alone should have teams considering his services, and the Bears are expected to be one of the teams to give him a workout should he choose to.

This is a player the Bears are all too familiar with, as he has spent the past six seasons with the Lions. During that stretch, Okwara played in 70 games (28 starts) and amassed 134 total tackles (24 for loss), 51 quarterback hits, 24.0 sacks, and six forced fumbles. A few of those sacks came against Mitch Trubisky when he was the QB in Chicago so there is that to consider. When asked why he was stepping away at such a young age, Okwara noted that he wanted to pursue the art of photography, which he has been interested in for a long time.

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