All pairings between team and player burn out in the NFL at some point, but reuniting with an old friend can make for more than just a feel-good story. This certainly applies for the Kansas City Chiefs and defensive end Alex Okafor.
Just a day after Melvin Ingram signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chiefs brought Okafor back on a one-year deal. It is unknown whether Ingram's decision impacted the subsequent move for Okafor, although the timing raises that question for sure. At any rate, while this may not be a huge acquisition, it makes the Chiefs better.
In 21 games with the Chiefs, Okafor has recorded 38 tackles, 19 quarterback hits and eight total sacks. His ability to remain healthy has been a question mark throughout his tenure with the team. Despite that, Arrowhead Report's Conner Christopherson joined me on today's Roughing the Kicker podcast to elaborate on why an Okafor return makes sense.
Without even considering Frank Clark's situation, the Chiefs are lacking a bit in the defensive end department. So much so, in fact, that defensive tackle Chris Jones may be spending early downs on the outside this season. Aside from those two, the team has nothing but specialists.
Mike Danna, last year's fifth-round pick, is a sound run defender but doesn't offer much against the pass. The opposite can be said about Taco Charlton, who should rotate in on obvious passing downs. 2021 draft pick Joshua Kaindoh is a wild-card — one who is probably a year away from being a reliable contributor.
Okafor gives the Chiefs someone with experience playing on every down. He may not have a great first step, nor is his arsenal of pass-rush moves all that expansive, but he's solid. He understands what Steve Spagnuolo wants his edge rushers to do. He can execute at a decent level. Those statements don't apply to some of Okafor's fellow defensive ends in various aspects.
This offseason, the Chiefs failed to make any massive upgrades to what was already a ho-hum group. What they did manage to do, though, was retain a sub-package rusher (Charlton) and draft a high-upside player (Kaindoh) while bringing stability back into the picture (Okafor). Okafor isn't a needle-mover for the entire defense but at his position group, he can still play an important role in 2021.
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