Patriots Sign $29 Million Blocker Before Free Agency

Tackle play haunted the New England Patriots in 2023, and the team addressed it on Thursday by signing former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor.

Okorafor is living the American dream

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport broke the news of Okorafor and the Patriots “agreeing to terms” for a contract via sources. The contract details have not been released for the 6-foot-6, 320-pound tackle.

Okorafor had a three-year, $29.25 million deal with the Steelers from 2022 to 2024 before his February release, and he had an entry level contract of four years, $3.4 million. The Steelers selected him with a third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Western Michigan.

A Nigeria native, Okorafor’s family moved to the U.S. in 2010, and he became a high school football star at Southfield High School in Southfield, Michigan. WMU recruited him, and he made first team All-American twice amid 39 career games.

With the Steelers, Okorafor started 59 games and played in 77 games overall, and he played in two career playoff games. He tallied 94%-100% of the offensive snap counts in four of his six seasons.

In 2023, Okorafor started seven of 14 games played, and he played 50% of the snaps. Okorafor missed time due injuries and a benching last season, but he has been mostly durable since he became a regular starter in 2020.

Chukwuma Okorafor Explained Benching in 2023

Pittsburgh sat Okorafor for a November 2023 game against the Tennessee Titans despite no appearance on the injury report. Okorafor explained it had to do with his words during the previous game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I talked to Coach T, we already had our talk, and he said it was nothing to do with [the quality of] my play on the field,” Okorafor told reporters in November 2023. “It was stuff that happened last week toward the end of the game.”

“Shocked, yeah,” Okorafor said. “But I couldn’t really do anything else but show Broderick [the ropes]. Brod being able to play left and right tackle helps him and us a lot.”

Broderick Jones received the start instead for the Titans game.

Chukwuma Okorafor: ‘I Knew Nothing About Football Before That’

Okorafor  didn’t grow up with football in Nigeria, and he played soccer instead. His first exposure to football came after his family moved to the U.S. in 2010 when he saw the Super Bowl between the Steelers and Green Bay Packers according to’s Teresa Varley in 2018.

“I knew nothing about football before that,” Okorafor told Varley. “Nothing at all.”

“Once I tried football out, I’ve just loved it since,” Okorafor added.

He started off as a punter but soon moved to tackle because of his size, Varely wrote in 2018. Offers came his way amid his success at Southfield — including Ohio State and Oklahoma — but he opted for WMU in his home state instead.

“It was something different, just being able to know the plays and the technique and stuff,” Okorafor said about playing football. “It was something that took me a couple months, or a year or two to just kind of get used to.”

Okorafor also had to adjust to a new culture and anew country after his family moved to Detroit.

“I would say it was more the culture, but I don’t think of it as a huge difference,” Okorafor said.

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