Giants Bobby Okereke: ‘I told my agent from day one I want to play in New York City’

Bobby Okereke Giants
Bobby Okereke speaks with reporters during a virtual availability.

From day one of free agency new Giants linebacker Bobby Okereke had one place in mind of where he wanted to play. The stars aligned and despite interest from other teams, Okereke packed his bags for the Big Apple.

Okereke was one of the Giants’ first big moves during free agency this week and addressed one of the team’s big needs this offseason at inside linebacker. Okereke posted a career-best 151 tackles, which included 99 solo tackles last year with the Indianapolis Colts. 

Now he’ll bring that skill set to a Giants team that he has had his eye on. 

“This honestly is a perfect situation for me,”  Okerek said during a press conference on Thursday. “Skill set wise, you’re getting a fast, physical linebacker. Very smart, very intelligent. Has good ball skills, and sideline to sideline I love to run and hit. I’m really a team-first guy. Don’t have a big ego, humble guy and I just want to win games.”

The Giants’ new addition on the defensive side of the ball said that he was looking forward to playing whatever role the Giants have for him next season. Okereke spoke glowingly about the defensive makeup of the team already, with Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams in front of him.

Okereke is also prepared to be a lot more aggressive in the blitz-heavy defense of Wink Martindale. 

“I’m gonna blitz a lot more, which I’m excited about,” Okereke said. “I mean, I’ve had a lot of blitz sack fumbles. I had a really good one want to say a year or two ago versus the Titans, but I mean, I love playing fast, physical and I think that’s why coach (Martindale) blitzes so much. So players can play free. There’s not a lot of thinking and that’s what you want to eliminate. You want to eliminate thinking and just have fast decision-making.”

The Giants are hoping that Okereke can help vastly improve their run defense, which had been one of the worst in the NFL last season. And New York’s ability to land him was a strong start to free agency for general manager Joe Schoen. 

Okereke was sought after by several teams, he said Thursday. Among those interested had been the Chicago Bears, according to ESPN, but it appeared that the linebacker had his sights set on one very specific place. 

“I told my agent from day one I want to play in New York City,” Okerek said. “New York City’s been one of my favorite cities growing up my whole life. And I mean, this franchise is on the rise.” 

The Giants made their first playoff appearance since 2016 last season and captured their first playoff win since 2012. Okereke got to see just how far the team had come last season in Week 17 when the Giants beat Indy 38-10 to clinch a playoff spot. 

Okereke did have a big individual performance against the Giants that game with 17 tackles and a pair of run-ins with quarterback Daniel Jones. He was called for unnecessary roughness for hitting Jonness while sliding, but the new Giants linebacker said that it was water under the bridge.

“They’ll probably be some fun trash talk,” Okereke said with a laugh about the moment. “Me and Daniel dapped it up after the game and I told him, it wasn’t intentional. I’m a competitive guy, he’s a competitive guy.” 

As for any of that competitiveness carrying over into practice next year, Okereke wanted to put Jones at eas. :Red jersey, he’s safe I’m hands off,” he said.