Detroit Lions sign Penei Sewell, Amon-Ra St. Brown to deals worth more than $230 million

Brad Holmes promised to build through the NFL draft when he took over as Detroit Lions general manager three years ago, and it’s only fitting that with the NFL’s tentpole offseason event in Detroit for the first time this week, the team celebrated by signing two of Holmes’ first draft picks to massive contract extensions.

The Lions agreed to terms on new four-year deals with right tackle Penei Sewell and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown on Wednesday that make them among the highest-paid players at their positions in the NFL.

A team source confirmed both deals, which have been in the works for months.

Sewell’s deal, which pays him $40 million in 2026 (the first new year of the deal), according to Sports Illustrated, tops Laremy Tunsil’s three-year, $75 million extension with the Houston Texans as the largest ever for an offensive lineman.

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NFL Network reported St. Brown’s deal includes $77 million guaranteed and has a maximum value of more than $120 million, while ESPN pegged Sewell’s deal at $112 million with $85 million guaranteed.

Tyreek Hill was the NFL’s highest-paid receiver on an average annual value basis at $30 million per season.

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St. Brown, whose new deal runs through 2028, was scheduled to make $3.366 million in 2024 in the final year of his rookie contract. Sewell had two years left on his rookie deal, including the fifth-year option, which SI reported the Lions exercised early Wednesday. His deal runs through 2029.

“At Ford Field,” St. Brown said in an Instagram story he posted Wednesday with the caption, “4 more years. Let’s run it.”

“It’s empty. Usually it’s rocking. I can’t wait. I’m here four more years. It’s up, it’s turnt. Detroit, what up doe?”

The Lions have gone from NFL afterthoughts to Super Bowl contenders in three seasons thanks largely to the roster Holmes has built through the draft.

He took Sewell with his first-ever draft pick as Lions GM, No. 7 overall in 2021, and grabbed St. Brown in the fourth round of the same draft two days later.

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Sewell, who turns 24 in October, earned first-team All-Pro honors last season and is widely regarded as one of the best lineman in the game. He has made two straight Pro Bowls and has played in 50 of a possible 51 games in his career, making most of his starts at right tackle.

“I can’t say enough great things about Sewell,” coach Dan Campbell said last season. “I mean he’s – there’s a reason why he was the first pick we had two years ago; it was because we wanted to build around a guy like him. He’s our foundation, man. He’s one of those pillars that we talk about.”

St. Brown, similarly, has been one of the Lions’ most dependable players since he landed in Detroit.

He set a franchise rookie record with 90 receptions in 2021 and earned first-team All-Pro honors last season with 119 catches and 1,515 yards. In three seasons, he has 315 receptions – third most by any player through their first three years in NFL history – 3,588 yards and 28 touchdowns.

He has improved statistically in catches, yards and touchdowns in each of his three NFL seasons.

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“The things that he does every day in practice and every game show up all the time,” Campbell said in January. “That’s what a pro is and it’s why he’s a pro. I mean, it’s — you can write down everything that he’s going to do and he’ll do it.

“It’s the same thing, and there’s nothing easy about what he does. But for him, it’s routine and it’s why he’s a great player. It’s consistency. You know exactly what you’re going to get every time, so it’s easy when you have a guy like him on your team. It’s easy to gameplan with him what you can do because you know what you’re going to get.”

One of the Lions’ hardest workers and fiercest competitors, St. Brown has kept a list of all 16 receivers taken before him in the 2021 draft that he refers to daily in-season for motivation.

Three receivers went in the top 10 that season, Ja’Marr Chase (No. 5), Jaylen Waddle (No. 6) and DeVonta Smith (No. 10), and two more went in the first round.

Chase, Waddle and Smith are the only pass catchers from the draft with even half as many catches as St. Brown, who slipped to Day 3 because of size and speed concerns. Chase and Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson are expected to land extensions that eclipse $30 million annually this offseason.

“He does it all,” CBS analyst and former Lions receiver Nate Burleson said at the Super Bowl in February. “Not only is he dynamic, he blocks his butt off. He just adds a spark. Really unique talent. He’s as good as any No. 1 wide receiver, but he brings that energy that you need.”

With deals for St. Brown and Sewell in the books, the Lions can turn their attention to finalizing a long-term contract extension with quarterback Jared Goff.

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Goff is entering the final season of an extension he signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019 and is scheduled to make $27.9 million next season. He expressed optimism about getting a new deal last week.

His deal could approach $50 million annually.

“There’s discussions and Brad has said what he’s said to you guys and I’ll say the same thing,” Goff said. “There’s been discussions. Yeah, my agent’s on top of it, he’s doing a good job and I trust those guys.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him@davebirkett.

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