Alex Okafor: “I would love to be back here” with Saints
Part of the Saints’ 2017-18 facelift on defense came in the addition of pass rusher Alex Okafor, a free agent from the Cardinals, who totaled 13.5 sacks in his previous three seasons in Arizona.
The thought of Okafor teaming up with star defensive end Cam Jordan and other pass rushers like Hau’oli Kikaha and Sheldon Rankins seemed formidable. And it was, for much of the season.
Appearing on my radio show on Sports1280 on Wednesday, Okafor expressed his pleasure with playing for the Saints.
“When I signed with New Orleans, I didn’t really know much about the scheme,” Okafor said. “All I knew was there was an opening and they had a need for another defensive end. So I told myself no matter what the scheme is, no matter what they need from me, if they put me on the field I’m going to find a way to be productive.
And Okafor was productive, off to one of his best seasons in the NFL with 43 combined tackles, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and four passes defended. Had he played in all 16 regular season games, there’s a good chance he could have matched his career-high eight sacks he had in 2014 in Arizona.
But as the season went along, the Saints defense was riddled with injuries, and after his tenth game, news came that Okafor was done for the season with a torn Achilles.
“I was devastated,” Okafor said. “We put in so much work starting from OTAs through Training Camp. Just to be a part of that, to have my season end the way it did, it was hard for me. But I believe everything happens for a reason.”
Okafor is now a free agent, having signed just a one-year “prove it” deal in New Orleans last offseason. Coming off injury may scare some teams away from an aggressive pursuit. And as Okafor tells it, he likely won’t be taking many free agent visits this offseason.
“Listen, you don’t have to bribe me, I want to be back (in New Orleans),” said Okafor. “You don’t have to give me anything extra, I want to be back. It’s about me getting healthy and getting back to 100%.”
When it comes to free agency, the Saints have one bigger priority to take care of first – quarterback Drew Brees. But once Mickey Loomis and his staff get to work on a deal with Brees, one would assume a deal to bring back Okafor would be in the works.
“I would love to be back here, and I’m going into the offseason expecting to be back, so that’s what I’m working towards,” said Okafor.
To hear the rest of the interview with Alex Okafor on Sports1280, listen to it here.
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A native of Metairie, Chris Gordy hosts “The Chris Gordy Show,” daily from 8am-10am on Sports1280AM & on the iHeartRadio app. A lifelong Saints fan & passionate LSU fan, Gordy bleeds purple, black and gold. A 2001 graduate of Archbishop Rummel, Gordy longs for the old days of the Catholic League. But he thinks there is still nothing better than…