NFL Free Agency Primer: Bobby Okereke

The regular season has come to a close, and most teams have already begun the complicated process of preparing for the 2023 season. As the new league year approaches, we'll be covering the impending free agents most capable of shifting the balance of power in the NFL.

The Player: Bobby Okereke

Shaquille Leonard may get all the headlines among Indianapolis Colts linebackers, but he hasn't been alone back there. Inside linebacker Bobby Okereke has been his silent partner, stacking solid year after solid year since entering the league as a third-round pick in 2019. His steady progress culminated in an excellent 2022 season that saw him total 151 tackles and earn a 73.3 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.

The Fit:

Okereke doesn't make a lot of glamorous plays, but he has the leadership and consistency that every team needs at linebacker. His speed and explosiveness match up well with modern, wide-open passing attacks. He can help any team that needs to establish communication and consistency on the inside of their defense. The Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers have reportedly shown interest.

The Contract:

Okereke apparently has a significant market: the Score's Jordan Schultz reports he could command a deal worth $12-14 million per year. That would place him somewhere inside the top 10 for average annual compensation at his position, between Buffalo Bills' linebacker Matt Milano (four years, $41.5 million) and Cleveland Browns linebacker Deion Jones (four years, $57 million). Given Okereke's play so far, that would likely be a fair deal. He doesn't have the elite traits, production, or profile to crack into top-five linebacker money.

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