Defensive end Alex Okafor is returning to the Big Easy.
The 27-year-old will sign a new two-year, $10 million deal with the New Orleans Saints, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Okafor spent last year with the Saints after playing his first four seasons for the Arizona Cardinals.
Alex Okafor Rejoining New Orleans Saints on Two-Year Deal
Drafted in the fourth round (103rd overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft out of Texas–like his former collegiate teammate and fellow draft classmate Kenny Vaccaro–Okafor was acquired to help bolster a Saints pass rush that finished with only 30 sacks in 2016, the sixth-fewest in the league. All-Pro lineman Cameron Jordan has been a stalwart for the defense since coming out of college in 2011, but the team had yet to find another every-down edge disruptor since Junior Galette departed the franchise in 2015. In the first half of the 2017 campaign, Okafor looked to be the void filler.
As of Week 10, Okafor amassed career highs in tackles (43), pass deflections (four) and forced fumbles (two). He was also one of the team’s early leaders in sacks with 4.5. His breakout season was prematurely ended by a torn Achilles injury he suffered in the Saints’ comeback home victory versus the Washington Redskins. Thoroughly impressing on his one-year deal, the injury couldn’t have occurred at a worse time. The Saints are already exploring options in the draft and free agency, but what further complicates matters for Okafor is that young pass rushers such as Trey Hendrickson, Hau’oli Kikaha, Al Quadin-Muhammad and Alex Anzalone are each respectable contributors on the edges.
A native of Dallas, TX, Okafor was a two-time All-Big 12 member and was once an All-American selection. Being a college teammate of Vaccaro and a professional teammate of Patrick Peterson, Calais Campbell, and Tyrann Mathieu, Okafor has been overshadowed for his entire career. On his new team, however, he should make more recognition-worthy contributions.
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