KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs made their first move toward bulking up their pass rush for the 2019 season, agreeing to terms with free agent defensive end Alex Okafor to three-year deal worth $18 million, a source confirmed to Chiefs Digest.
Okafor pencils in as a likely starter in the trenches at defensive end opposite Breeland Speaks. Just a few hours before the Chiefs signed Okafor, general manager Brett Veach indicated a willingness to make moves after the departures of Justin Houston and Dee Ford.
“Absolutely,” Veach said. “We're not done. This was one part to get flexibility and ammunition to do things that we want to do.”
One of those things Veach wanted to get accomplished was the addition of Okafor. The 6-foot-4, 261-pound edge rusher was fourth-round draft pick for the Arizona Cardinals in the 2013 draft from Texas. He tallied 22 sacks with 156 combine tackles in 68 games with 51 starts over six seasons with the Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints.
The 4-3 defensive end ranked as the No. 43 edge rusher in 2018 by Pro Football Focus, totaling 36 combine tackles with four sacks, nine quarterback hits and a forced fumble. He received a 69.4 grade from PFF last season, a decline from 78.4 during the 2017 season.
Okafor suffered a torn Achilles in November 2017 that ended his season. He suffered a bone bruise and a sprained knee during training camp in August 2018. He still bounced to play all 16 regular-season games for the Saints, collecting 36 total tackles, four sacks and nine quarterback hits. The Saints voided the final year of a two-year contract extension signed in 2018 on Feb. 14, making Okafor a free agent at the start of the new league year Wednesday.
Okafor coincidentally turned in one of this biggest games of his NFL career against the Chiefs in 2014. He collected a sack and picked off a pass from Alex Smith. The turnover setup the Cardinals for what proved the game-winning touchdown in a 17-14 victory over Kansas City.
The contract with the Chiefs includes incentives that could boost the value of the deal up $24 million over three seasons.