The Steelers signed offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor to a three-year contract. Okorafor was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.
Okorafor, the team's third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, started 16 of 17 games at right tackle in 2021. It was his second straight season primarily in a starting role, having started 15 of the 16 games he played in during the 2020 season as well.
Okorafor said he wanted to remain in the black and gold, with a big reason being Coach Mike Tomlin.
"I think just being coached by Mike Tomlin and knowing everything he is doing, and what there could be after Ben (Roethlisberger)," said Okorafor after signing. "It will be different not having Ben around, but it's also a change that was eventually going to happen. I want to be a part of the change."
Okorafor has played in 46 games in his four seasons, starting 35, and has started both postseason contests he has played in.
He said it's now time for him to step up in different ways, including from a leadership role.
"I feel like at this point I don't really have a choice," said Okorafor. "I think that is something I have to do. I have had a little bit of a talk with Coach Tomlin. I think that is going to be my next role, how to lead better."
Making it to the NFL has been an amazing journey for Okorafor. He was born in Nigeria and was raised for part of his life in Botswana, where the main sport was soccer and that is what he was raised playing.
His family immigrated to the United States in 2010, settling in the Detroit area. It was a chance for a better life for them, a better job for his father, and a shot at the American Dream.
What he had to adjust to most, was a different sport. People were encouraging him to play football. It was a sport all the kids played, one that brought people together with a common love. And his first introduction to it, was watching the Steelers play the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
Being new at the sport, and with a strong soccer background, he became a punter. Before he knew it, his body outgrew that of the average punter, and he was asked to play tackle his junior year of high school. He had already mastered a new country and a new sport, why not a new position. The rest as they say is history.
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Take a look at photographs of Steelers OL Chukwuma Okorafor from the 2021 season