INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts have taken a couple of early hits on the free-agent front.
Starting linebacker Bobby Okereke has agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract that includes $22 million in guarantees with the New York Giants according to NFL Network while cornerback Brandon Facyson is headed back to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Both defections were anticipated and leave voids in Gus Bradley’s defense.
Monday began a two-day window for teams to negotiate with pending free agents. Contracts can’t be finalized until Wednesday.
Okereke was a 2019 third-round draft pick who had emerged as a defensive mainstay. He started 49 of 64 games, including 33 the past two seasons when he piled up 279 tackles, a team-high over that stretch.
Okereke used his contract year in 2022 to boost his stock. He finished with a career-best 149 tackles, including six for a loss. He also had five passes defended, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Despite the productive season, Okereke had braced himself for a relocation.
“Just letting my agent focus on it,’’ he said in December. “I just tried to focus on football and trying to put together a good resume. I have tried to control what I can control.
“I feel really good about what I’ve put out there. I’ve made plays, clutch plays. I’ve shown enough in that WILL position to show people what I’m capable of doing.
“This is like my first real journey into free agency. It’s an opportunity to get financial freedom. It’s massive.’’
For perspective, consider Okereke earned $5.44 million on his rookie contract.
Facyson, meanwhile, returns to the Raiders. He signed a one-year, $3.54 million contract with the Colts as a free agent last March.
Facyson started four of 16 games last season and finished with 28 tackles and six passes defended.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.