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Former Steelers OT Chuks Okorafor Flipping Sides in New England

Former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Chuks Okorafor is now with the New England Patriots, and is flipping sides on the offensive line.

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Steelers RT Chuks Okorafor
Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Chuks Okorafor at training camp on Aug. 8, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers moved on from Chuks Okorafor to give him a headstart into the offseason, and as a result, Okorafor became another tackle in a market with very few options. And as a result, he found a landing spot early, and will sign with the New England Patriots.

According to Field Yates, the deal is worth $4 million in its base value and it could reach as much as $8.25 million over the one-year Okorafor has signed on with the Patriots. And it’s interesting what the Patriots consider him as on the offensive line, as the Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf states that Okorafor will move to the left side of the offensive line and play left tackle.

Okorafor, 26, had been with the team since the Steelers drafted him in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Western Michigan. If you remember, Okorafor started almost his entire career with the Steelers at right tackle, but he was set to flip to left tackle in the 2021 season before circumstances with injuries forced him back to the right side. He never moved from there, but played most of his college snaps there, and the Patriots are moving him back.

A native of Ibadan, Nigeria, Okorafor became a starter for the Steelers in the 2020 season, when he replaced an injured Zach Banner at right tackle in the season opener against the New York Giants.

Okorafor started every game that season, and then when Banner was unable to return from his injury in 2021, moved back from left tackle to right tackle to allow rookie Dan Moore Jr. to play his more natural position.

Okorafor and Moore remained the Steelers’ starting tackles until midway through the 2023 season, when Okorafor was benched in favor of first-round draft pick Broderick Jones.

Okorafor said he was benched for a comment about not wanting to continue to run plays as the team was hopelessly behind the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8. That ended up being his last Steelers action at tackle, outside of a handful of plays as a sixth offensive lineman down the stretch run of the season.

During locker clean-out day after the Steelers’ playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 15, Okorafor seemed resigned to his fate with the team.

If I had known that was going to be the case, I probably wouldn’t have chose to come back here,” he said. “But at that point, there wasn’t anything I could do about it.”

Okorafor said he still believes that he’s a starting-caliber NFL tackle.

“That’s the plan,” he said. “I think I’m young. I feel like I’ve got a lot of ball left in me.”

He will get to see what he has on the left side compared to the right side. Of course, if he plays much better than in Pittsburgh, there will be even more questions about their evaluation of these offensive linemen and where they decide to play them.