The Detroit Lions made headlines recently by trading cornerback Jeff Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons for a fifth-round draft pick. The move surprised some, given that Okudah was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but General Manager Brad Holmes explained on Thursday that it was simply the right time to make the move. Okudah had struggled with injuries and had fallen down the depth chart, while the Lions had added several new starters to their secondary. The Falcons, on the other hand, were in need of help at cornerback and saw Okudah as a player with untapped potential.
- The Lions traded Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons for a fifth-round draft pick.
- The Lions agreed to pay some of Okudah's salary to facilitate the deal.
- Okudah was buried on the Lions' depth chart and faced an uphill battle for playing time.
- Okudah had struggled with injuries during his time in Detroit, including missing most of the 2021 season with a torn Achilles tendon.
- The Falcons saw Okudah as a player with untapped potential and a good fit for their team.
Brad Holmes: ‘It was just the right time' to trade Jeff Okudah
Holmes spoke to the media during his pre-NFL Draft press conference, and he explained that though he was not shopping Okudah when the Falcons called, it just made sense for all parties to make the deal.
“I just think it was the right time. It was just the right time and I think it was good for Jeff,” Holmes said. “I had a good talk with him after it was done, and he told me he understood it as well. So it was great. I really respect what Jeff did. We kind of put him in some adverse moments in training camp last year and just like I told you guys, I really respected how he battled and didn’t bat an eye and won the starting job.”
“We had the conversation of, ‘OK, if this didn’t happen now, is there a chance that it could happen a little bit later?'” Holmes said. “So I think it was just good for Jeff. I got a lot of respect for (general manager) Terry (Fontenot) out there in Atlanta. It was a really smooth, efficient process and it kind of just came up.”
Bottom Line – Sometimes, the right move is the difficult one
While the decision to trade Okudah may have been a difficult one for the Lions, it was ultimately the right move for the team and for Okudah himself. Only time will tell how the trade will ultimately pan out, but it's clear that Brad Holmes and the Lions are willing to make tough decisions in order to build a winning team.