The New York Giants needed a middle linebacker position, and like many other teams on Monday, they grabbed one from the free agent market.
Former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Bobby Okerek has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $40 million deal with the Giants with the entire $22 million guaranteed.
All agreed deals can be signed once the new league year begins on March 15.
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The 26-year-old Stanford product has been a standout for the Colts since taking over the full-time starting role two seasons ago. A former third-round draft pick, Okereke had hit 132 tackles in 17 games in 2021 in addition to two interceptions, four passes defensed and one sack.
He followed that up last season by smashing his career high in tackles with 151 in 17 games. He had five passes defended and forced fumbles as well.
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Under defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, the Giants experimented with different linebacker combinations last season, including Jaylon Smith, Micah McFadden, Landon Collins and Jarrad Davis.
While the Giants defense was a solid group, the linebackers corps was seen as a mediocre unit. They just didn’t have the speed to compete with teams, especially in their own division.
GM Joe Schoen, armed with a good amount of cover space despite inking long-term quarterback Daniel Jones as well as marking franchise running back Saquon Barkley, made the move to shore up that position as the linebacker got off the board early.
The Giants defense can still use cornerbacks, but they brought back most of their squad from last season, including top four Jihad Ward, Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams and Kevon Thibodeau. Adoree’ Jackson, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, and others are the ones who get high school.
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The Giants are hoping to continue advancing toward a consistent playoff contender after surprising many with a 9-7-1 record that was good enough for a wild card. They ended up defeating the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the playoffs on the road.
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