Stay Or Walk: Arizona Cardinals Linebacker Chike Okeafor

With the free agency period fast approaching, we'll start looking over the Arizona Cardinals roster for the players that will become free agents on March 5th. As you know, the Cardinals have the second highest amount players(13) that will become free agents, and we have a lot of ground to cover between now and when free agency begins. Today we'll look at Cardinals' outside linebacker Chike Okeafor.

Chike Okeafor has been with the Cardinals for five seasons and is approaching the age of 34. He'll be a free agent this offseason and most people around the organization believe the Cardinals will look elsewhere for his replacement.

Okeafor was signed in 2005 to combine with Bertrand Berry to become a formidable tandem of defensive ends for opponents to deal with. Unfortunately, Berry and Okeafor both missed a significant amount of time from 2005-2007 and weren't able to play along side each other. However, in Okeafor's first two seasons he averaged 8 sacks a year, and appeared to be well worth the signing.  In 2007, Okeafor was sent to Injured reserve after sustaining an injury in the preseason. In his last two seasons he had 9 sacks and 107 tackles.

Reasons For:

  • Okeafor is a versatile defender that can play with his hand on the ground or stand in coverage.
  • Even at his age he brings 11 years of veteran experience to the team, and could be a mentor for younger linebackers.
  • He's still an effective pass rusher, registering 4.5 sacks this past year.
  • Okeafor plays with a high motor and he's never been a distraction inside or outside the locker room.
  • The Cardinals would be able to sign Okeafor to a relatively cheap contract considering their won't be a huge market for him outside of Arizona.

Reasons Against:

  • His age will play a large factor in determining whether or not Okeafor will be back in Cardinal-red next season. He'll be 34 when the season starts and after 11 seasons, his body has taken a tole.
  • The injury risk would balloon and with the Cardinals already being thin at linebacker, Okeafor would become a liability on defense.
  • His production has also begun to slip in the last two seasons. Since he was placed on injured reserve - missing the entire 2007 season - Okeafor has sacked opposing quarterbacks just 4.5 times each season.

Stay or Walk: Walk

Okeafor's age will play the primary role in the Cardianls decision should they release him. He won't return to his form of 8 to 9-sacks a year, and the injury risk is too great for the Cardinals to overlook. The Cardinals will likely look for his replacement in the NFL draft in April. What are your thoughts on Chike Okeafor? Should and will the Cardinals re-sign him?

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