Alex Okafor

Chiefs Place Mitchell Schwartz On IR

Mitchell Schwartz has seen his iron-man run stop this season, having missed time due to injury. The Chiefs will now be without their ace right tackle for a while.

Kansas City placed Schwartz on IR Saturday. This move will sideline the All-Pro blocker for at least three more games. Schwartz is dealing with a back injury — one that has shelved him since Week 6.

Prior to the October injury, Schwartz had not missed a game in eight seasons. He had started four years with the Browns and another four with the Chiefs. Kansas City gave Schwartz an extension in the process, relying on his stability as Eric Fisher underwent surgery last season. Both Fisher and Schwartz landed on Kansas City’s reserve/COVID-19 list recently, but Fisher will be back in action against Las Vegas. Schwartz will not.

The Chiefs also removed Mecole Hardman from their reserve/COVID list. They had placed the second-year wideout on the virus list last week. Hardman should play a key role against the Raiders, with Sammy Watkins set to miss the AFC West rivals’ Week 11 rematch.

Kansas City is also activating Alex Okafor and defensive back L’Jarius Sneed from IR. Okafor worked as a starter last season, but a midseason injury knocked him out for the team’s Super Bowl push. A hamstring injury sidelined Okafor this season. A fourth-round rookie, Sneed played well early this year but suffered a broken collarbone in September. Okafor will help out a Chiefs pass rush that will be without Taco Charlton for a while. The Chiefs placed the offseason acquisition on IR Saturday.

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Chiefs Place DE Alex Okafor On IR

While they cannot match their Sunday opponent for impactful injuries, the Chiefs will enter Week 7 missing some key players.

Alex Okafor will miss Sunday’s tilt in Denver and at least two more contests. The Chiefs placed the veteran defensive end on IR Saturday. Okafor has encountered a hamstring issue.

Okafor, All-Pro right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and wideout Sammy Watkins are out Sunday for the Chiefs. Okafor will land on IR for the second straight season. The Chiefs placed the 2019 free agent acquisition on IR after 10 games last season, with a torn pec preventing the veteran pass rusher from playing during the team’s Super Bowl push.

Okafor’s latest injury is not as severe, but it will test Kansas City’s depth a bit. The Chiefs are also without 2020 free agent get Taco Charlton this week. The defending Super Bowl champs have used contract-year defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon ahead of Okafor on their depth chart this season. After Okafor started nine games in 2019, he has worked as a rotational rusher this year. Okafor has a half-sack in 2020.

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Chiefs, Alex Okafor Rework Deal

The Chiefs now have a little bit of extra cap room, thanks to a revised deal with Alex Okafor. The defensive end has agreed to a pay cut that will earn $2MM off of KC’s cap (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). In exchange, Okafor will reach free agency next March, one year earlier than originally planned.

[RELATED: 2020 NFL Cap Space, By Team]

The new deal will pay Okafor a maximum of $4.96MM, with $860K coming by way of per-game roster bonuses and $2MM in incentives. After that, he’ll hit the open market. Originally, this was slated to be the sandwich year in Okafor’s three-year, $18MM deal, inked last year.

Okafor’s first year with the Chiefs ended on injured reserve. Before that, he was playing fairly well. In ten games (nine starts), he racked up five sacks.

The talent-loaded Chiefs have made a handful of moves this offseason to make the numbers work. Previously, they restructured Frank Clark‘s deal and re-signed Sammy Watkins to a new contract that came with a sizable pay cut. All in all, the Chiefs are now left with about $15MM to spend.

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Chiefs Place Alex Okafor On IR

The Chiefs picked up another win over the Broncos Sunday, but they also suffered a significant loss. On Monday, they were forced to place defensive end Alex Okafor on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle.

Okafor signed a three-year, $18MM deal with Kansas City this offseason, and has been playing fairly well as of late. In ten games and nine starts, he’s racked up five sacks. Before that, Okafor spent the previous two years in New Orleans, where he was a full-time starter and key part of the defensive front.

The Chiefs’ defense has started to play a lot better in recent weeks and is hitting a stride, so the timing on this certainly isn’t ideal as they gear up for their playoff run. On a positive note – they’ve claimed Terrell Suggs, who can help to replace Okafor’s presence and pass-rush ability.

Kansas City completely reinvented their pass-rush this offseason, getting rid of Justin Houston and Dee Ford and bringing in Okafor and Frank Clark. A Texas product, Okafor was originally drafted by the Cardinals in the fourth round back in 2013.

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Contract Details: Vaccaro, Callahan, Okafor

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed NFL contracts, with all links going to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle’s Twitter account:

Chiefs To Sign DE Alex Okafor

After two major subtractions to their pass rush, the Chiefs are trying to add some reinforcements. The club is expected to sign former Saints defensive end Alex Okafor to a three-year deal, $18MM deal, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Through incentives, the pact can reach up to $24MM. 

Okafor was having a strong year in 2017 before tearing his Achilles and then re-upped on a cheap deal with the Saints before the 2018 season started. Now fully healthy, Okafor is moving on to KC.

Just days ago, the Chiefs shipped Dee Ford to the Niners in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick. In need of ammo to bolster the pass rush, they’ve added Okafor, a younger and cheaper substitute. Ford’s franchise tag would have called for a $15MM+ salary in 2019. Okafor, meanwhile, stands to earn a $6MM average annual value on his new deal, sans incentives.

Okafor, 27, broke out with eight sacks in his second NFL season. Since then, he’s been productive, but has yet to revisit that mark. Last year, he put up four sacks for the Saints across 16 games (all starts), giving him 22 for his career.

Saints Unlikely To Re-Sign Alex Okafor

Alex Okafor will probably be changing teams. The Saints are unlikely to re-sign the defensive end, according to a source who spoke with Josh Katzenstein of The Times-Picayune (on Twitter). 

Okafor has been solid for the Saints over the last two years, but the club is looking to put Marcus Davenport in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Okafor is scheduled for free agency after the club amended his contract.

The Saints changed the language in Okafor‘s deal back in December, and the new deal language automatically voided the 2019 year of Okafor’s contract. The deal was re-worked to give Okafor a $400K bonus even though he came up one sack short of the incentive and it also guaranteed him free agency after the ’18 campaign.

Okafor was having a strong year in 2017 before tearing his Achilles and then re-upped on a cheap deal with the Saints before the 2018 season started. Now fully healthy, Okafor has a chance to cash in elsewhere.

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NFC Notes: Seahawks, Cardinals, Saints

Although Kam Chancellor will likely never play football again, the Seahawks safety cashed in today. $5.2MM of his salary for 2019 became fully guaranteed today, according to Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. As Henderson points out, Chancellor likely would’ve received the $5.2MM anyway because it is fully guaranteed for injury, but the Seahawks are holding off releasing Chancellor outright for cap purposes.

“The Seahawks carried Chancellor on PUP in 2018 because cutting him would have caused his cap number to balloon”, Henderson writes, adding that “the likely outcome, it seems, is that the Seahawks cut Chancellor later this offseason since the cap penalties won’t be nearly as severe as they were last year.” Chancellor suffered a neck injury in Week 10 of the 2017 season that was apparently serious enough to prevent him from ever being medically cleared to play. Chancellor was a longtime member of the team’s vaunted ‘Legion of Boom’ unit, and made four Pro Bowls with the team. Chancellor was a fifth round pick out of Virginia Tech back in 2010.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Speaking of the Seahawks, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times sat down with former NFL agent and current CBS Sports Analyst Joel Corry to talk all things related to Seattle’s upcoming offseason. Corry opined that the team would likely franchise tag star defensive end Frank Clark to avoid letting him hit the open market. Clark’s agent has made bold claims in the media about not settling for anything less than a massive deal, which Corry took to mean the Seahawks are “almost going to have to franchise him.” Condotta and Corry both agreed that the recent report the team hasn’t talked extension with Russell Wilson isn’t anything to be concerned about, but Corry also seemed to indicate he expected Wilson’s representatives to be patient and drag things out.
  • The Cardinals are hiring Matt Harriss away from the Lions as their new director of administration, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). Garafolo notes that Harriss will be Arizona’s contracts guy, and that the Lions and Cardinals essentially swapped contract negotiators because Detroit had just hired Mike Disner away from the Cardinals.
  • The Saints changed the language in pass-rusher Alex Okafor‘s contract back in December, and the new deal language automatically voided the 2019 year of Okafor’s contract, a source told Nick Underhill of The Advocate. Underhill writes that the deal was re-worked to give Okafor a $400K bonus even though he came up one sack short of the incentive, and it also guaranteed him free agency. Okafor was having a really good year in 2017 before tearing his Achilles, and then re-signed on a cheap deal with the Saints before the 2018 season started. Now fully healthy, the voided year means Okafor will be an unrestricted free agent this March and he’ll have the chance to cash in with a big contract.

South Rumors: Mariota, Jags, Falcons, Bucs

This season did not produce the uptick in Marcus Mariota production the Titans wanted, but part of the reason for that was the starting quarterback’s multiple injuries. Elbow troubles plagued Mariota for much of this season, but he is not expected to need offseason surgery, Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets. A nerve issue affected Mariota (11 touchdown passes, eight interceptions, 2,528 passing yards) this season and cost him a chance to help the Titans back into the playoffs, forcing Blaine Gabbert back into action in Week 17. Mariota is attached to a $20.9MM fifth-year option in 2019.

As the 2019 hiring period ignites, here’s the latest from the South divisions a

  • Dirk Koetter‘s interview for his old job as Falcons offensive coordinator will occur Saturday, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. The Falcons’ OC from 2012-14, Koetter is a free agent again after being fired by the Buccaneers. He may well be the leading candidate to succeed Steve Sarkisian running Atlanta’s offense. Matt Ryan has praised Koetter in the recent past. Mike Mularkey, Atlanta’s OC from 2008-11, and Darrell Bevell are the other known candidates.
  • The Jaguars voided the $7.1MM in remaining guarantees in Leonard Fournette‘s rookie contract. He has 50 days to file a grievance, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes Fournette surely will. Florio argues the contract does not include language addressing the voiding of guarantees for on-field misconduct, and such an omission will be key for the former top-five pick keeping those guarantees in his four-year deal.
  • Although the Jets are believed to be ready to make a run at Le’Veon Bell, Albert Breer of SI.com does not see that pursuit winning out. Instead, Breer said during an interview with Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd (via the Tampa Bay Times) the Buccaneers are his best guess as to who will be signing the running back’s checks in 2019. This would be interesting because of the Jets’ cap-space advantage ($106MM-plus to $17MM-plus, though the Bucs can clear a substantial amount of room without incurring dead money) and the fact Tampa Bay used a 2018 second-round pick on Ronald Jones.
  • Kyle Allen was not the first player summoned to action when Cam Newton was shut down, but he ended the season as the Panthers‘ quarterback. His short stay as the Panthers’ first-stringer earned him a legitimate chance to be Newton’s backup next season, Breer notes. Allen was a UDFA but came to college as a five-star recruit. He threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions in Carolina’s season-finale win over New Orleans.
  • Alex Okafor stood to miss a $400K bonus because he fell one sack short of the incentive’s five-sack threshold, but, interestingly, the Saints paid him the bonus anyway, per NOLA.com’s Luke Johnson. This could be a key component of the starting defensive end’s upcoming decision on whether or not to opt out of his contract. Okafor signed a two-year deal with a player option to stay in New Orleans and has until the final day of the 2018 league year to decide on the option.

Saints Rumors: Okafor, Teddy, Armstead

A clause in Alex Okafor‘s Saints contract will allow for the veteran edge defender to gauge his worth again. Okafor signed a two-year deal to stay with the Saints earlier this year, but by registering three sacks this season, he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent, Nick Underhill of The Advocate reports. The starter opposite Cameron Jordan all season, Okafor collected four sacks in New Orleans’ first 15 games. He has until 11am on the final day of the 2018 league year to notify the Saints if he is to opt out of the deal, Underhill adds. Okafor was a free agent in both 2017 and ’18. The Saints drafted Marcus Davenport in the 2018 first round and have Jordan signed through 2020. Okafor would count $4.85MM against the Saints’ 2019 cap.

Were he to opt out, there might be more money awaiting. Okafor has stayed healthy this season and has 8.5 sacks in his two Saints years. With the top-tier free agents-to-be likely not set to leave their current teams, Okafor and second-tier peers will be the next-best options for teams looking to the market to upgrade. Of course, he has not cleared 4.5 sacks since 2014, so expectations for the 27-year-old defender’s next deal should be tempered.

Here’s the latest out of New Orleans:

  • On the subject of Saints who could become UFAs, Teddy Bridgewater is going to make his first start since a 2015 wild-card game. The Saints announced Bridgewater will start for Drew Brees. The Saints have already secured NFC home-field advantage. This game now becomes an interesting audition for a player who could be one of the most attractive free agent quarterbacks in March. Both Mike Zimmer and Bill Parcells, who serves as a mentor to Bridgewater, recommended the passer to Sean Payton, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com notes. The Saints sent a third-round pick to the Jets for Bridgewater, so it would make sense if they tried to keep him as the Brees heir apparent. But with several teams likely in the market for younger starter-level options, the Saints may not be able to afford Bridgewater, especially if he plays well against the Panthers.
  • Against the Steelers, Terron Armstead aggravated the pectoral injury that caused him to miss five games. Unsurprisingly, the Saints’ left tackle starter is out for Sunday’s meaningless regular-season finale. It’s not clear how severe this setback was, but Armstead did not guarantee he would be back in time for New Orleans’ playoff opener in just more than two weeks. The Pro Bowl blocker hopes to return by then, Christopher Dabe of NOLA.com notes. Jermon Bushrod started for Armstead during his initial hiatus.
  • These playoffs will be it for Ben Watson. The tight end playing another season could have made him the first pure tight end to play at age 39, unless Antonio Gates returns in 2019, but Watson will retire after the season — his 15th.