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New York Giants sign linebacker Bobby Okereke

Giants add a much-needed linebacker

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Indianapolis Colts v New York Giants
Bobby Okereke chasing Daniel Jones last season.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The New York Giants made their first real splash of 2023 NFL free agency on Monday evening, signing former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke. Ian Rapoport was first with the news.

Art Stapleton is reporting that Okereke and the Giants have agreed to terms on a four-year, $40 million deal. Rapoport added that Okereke will receive $22 million guaranteed.

Okereke, who will be 27 next season, was a third-round pick by the Colts in 2019.

In 17 games and 16 starts in 2022, Okereke had a career-high 151 tackles, including 99 solo and six for loss. He had five passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

Okereke had 132 tackles for Indianapolis in 2021.

Okereke had an overall 73.3 Pro Football Focus grade in 2022, including 79.3 as a run defender.

Okereke was No. 40 on PFF’s list of the top 200 free agents:

Okereke stepped up in a major way in the absence of fellow off-ball linebacker Shaquille Leonard, with his 72.9 grade ranking 23rd at the position. Okereke was particularly stout against the run, with his 13 defensive stops against the run tied for the 13th most. Okereke is now coming off back-to-back seasons with at least 100 tackles and 50 defensive stops.

The former third-round pick still has room to grow as a coverage player, but at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, he moves well enough in space to not be a liability in coverage.

Giants general manager Joe Schoen had promised to improve the team’s run defense in 2023. Earlier on Monday, it was reported that the Giants had agreed to terms with veteran defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches, a first step toward doing that.

Signing Okereke is a much bigger move.

The Giants had a revolving door of linebackers in 2022. Blake Martinez was cut before the season began. Tae Crowder and Austin Calitro began the season, but did not finish it as Giants. Rookie Micah McFadden was in and out of the lineup. Stop-gap veterans Jaylon Smith and Jarrad Davis were added during the season.

Through it all, it was apparent the Giants needed to upgrade the inside linebacker position.

Giants fans watched on Monday, the first day of the negotiating window, as potential targets kept coming off the board. Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards both signed with the Chicago Bears, Germain Pratt returned to the Cincinnati Bengals and David Long Jr. agreed to a deal with the Tennessee Titans.

And, yes, if you were wondering, Okereke is the linebacker who was on the end of a Daniel Jones’ shoulder/forearm after a late hit against the quarterback in last season’s Giants-Colts game.


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