Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor recently talked to 93.7 The Fan about a variety of topics, including his new contract. Okorafor signed a three-year contract worth $29.25 million with $9 million guaranteed to stay in Pittsburgh this offseason, and he talked about his philosophy behind signing the contract.
“I think, obviously the goal is to play with one team for every year in the league. Whether that’s playing for seven years, playing for 10, 20, however many years you play, I think just knowing what to expect with the coaches, the players, the team, I think that’s what meant the most to me.”
Okorafor was initially slated to start at left tackle before last season started, but Zach Banner’s inability to be ready for the regular season due to injury meant that he slide over to the right side while rookie Dan Moore Jr. played left tackle. Okorafor has had his fair share of critics over the years, and not a lot of people were happy to see him come back to Pittsburgh after ranking 44th among 54 qualifying offensive tackles, according to PFF. Still, the structure of the contract is pretty team-friendly in nature, especially for a starting tackle. In essence, the contract is a one-year, $10.5 million contract, as he has $4 million roster bonuses due in both 2023 and 2024, in addition to a $10 million base salary.
The structure of the contract makes 2022 a big year for Okorafor. If he struggles, the Steelers won’t be afraid to cut bait, as it won’t have any major effect on their financials. New General Manager Omar Khan has talked about the importance of protecting the quarterback, and if Okorafor struggles, Pittsburgh could cut him and look to the draft or free agency to find a starting-quality offensive tackle. If Okorafor plays well, then he’ll be appropriately compensated and maybe even underpaid a little bit, depending on how well he plays.
Ultimately, the Steelers hope that Okorafor can achieve his goal of playing for one team his whole career. Ideally, he becomes an above-average starter and a stalwart at the position for Pittsburgh, who could theoretically have two bookend tackles in Okorafor and Moore Jr. for the next decade. Okorafor will look to reward Pittsburgh’s faith in giving him a new contract by out-playing it and getting rewarded with a new one three years down the line. If he can’t play up to the contract, don’t be surprised if the Steelers and Khan look to move on after this season.