Bears linked to talented linebacker Bobby Okereke
Robert Scheer - USA Today Sports

Bears linked to talented linebacker Bobby Okereke

by - Senior Writer -

Whenever a player enters free agency, there are a few things to consider before signing with a team. First and foremost, you must look at the fit and if it is the right situation for you. Chances are, if you are a 3-4 player and a team plays a 4-3 scheme, the fit isn't for you.

Second, money is always a selling point, but not necessarily the selling point. A free agent always wants to get the most money they can on the open market, but there are cases where they will take less to play in a better situation. Third, most players look at the position depth on the teams interested in them and whether they will be a starter for them or not. If they don't view them as a starter, then more often than not, they will look elsewhere.

Finally, many players look for familiarity or some connection in the NFL that they feel comfortable with. Regarding free agent LB Bobby Okereke, he is starting to garner tons of interest from the Chicago Bears, and the feeling could be mutual. With Matt Eberflus as the head coach and Alan Williams as the DC, Okereke has the familiarity with the Bears staff that he only has with a few other teams.

This is a player who played with the Indianapolis Colts, where Eberflus was his defensive coordinator and Williams was the defensive back coach. In other words, he knows the Eberflus system, knows what makes it work, and would fit in nicely should there be interest from both sides. The 26-year-old LB is coming off a strong run with the Colts and is now in the market for a 12-14 million dollar annual contract. Chicago is one of the few teams that could give him that type of offer and may consider it considering the familiarity with Eberflus.

When you look at the Bears linebacker position, they need depth and overall help as they have undergone a significant makeover at that spot. Not only would Okereke give them depth, but he would instantly become a starter and would give the Bears a valuable piece to lean on. This past season was his best as a pro, and he will get paid because of it.

Okereke tallied career-bests in total tackles (151), solo tackles (99), and tackles-for-loss (6), which is better than anyone else on the Bears roster. Considering Chicago traded away Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens, this is the perfect replacement for him as he offers similar production for less money.

One of the worries many Bears fans have about bringing in Okereke happens to be the price. While 14 million seems like a lot, it isn't that bad when you look at what other LBs on the market will make. Smith just signed a five-year 100 million dollar extension, setting the LB group's market. Okereke has similar production to Smith's; if we are looking at that, he should be getting paid roughly the same.

Along with the season he had last year, Okereke has accumulated 420 tackles since joining the NFL. He has also registered two sacks, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and three interceptions. None of those numbers are off-the-chart numbers, but he is a guy who knows how to make plays on the defensive side of the ball.

Looking back at last season, not only did the Bears rank near the bottom of the league in points allowed per game, but they were dead last in rushing yards per carry. The Bears defense was shredded on the ground as they allowed nearly five yards per carry. Okereke would undoubtedly help with that, as he has a knack for finding the ball carrier and bringing him down.

Adding one player will not entirely fix a defense, but his addition would be a step in the right direction. Free agency is right around the corner, six days to be exact, and the rumors you are hearing now will only continue to heat up as we get closer.

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