The New York Giants had a need at middle linebacker, and like many others teams on Monday, they snatched one off the free-agent market.
Former Indianapolis Colts star linebacker Bobby Okereke reportedly agreed to a four-year, $40 million deal with the Giants with $22 million fully guaranteed.
All deals agreed to 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 assuming a full-time starting role two seasons ago. A former third-round pick, Okereke hit 132 tackles in 17 games in 2021 as well as two interceptions, four passes defended and one sack.
He followed that up last season by breaking his career-high in tackles with 151 in 17 games. He had five passes defended and two forced fumbles as well.
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Under defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, the Giants tried different combinations of linebackers last season, including Jaylon Smith, Micah McFadden, Landon Collins and Jarrad Davis.
While the Giants’ defense was a solid group, their linebacking corps was viewed as a mediocre unit. They didn’t have the speed necessary to compete with teams, especially in their own division.
GM Joe Schoen, armed with a good amount of cap space despite inking quarterback Daniel Jones long term as well as franchise tagging running back Saquon Barkley, made the move to shore up that position as linebackers went off the board early.
The Giants’ defense could still use a cornerback, but they return most of their group from last season, including their front four of Jihad Ward, Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Adoree’ Jackson, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love and others man the secondary.
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The Giants are hoping to continue building toward a consistent playoff contender after surprising many with their 9-7-1 record that was good enough for a wild-card spot. They ended up defeating the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the playoffs on the road.