Despite losing Bobby Okereke, Colts made sure they still have depth at linebacker

Indianapolis Colts linebacker E.J. Speed (45) celebrates after a play Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, during
Indianapolis Colts linebacker E.J. Speed (45) celebrates after a play Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, during / Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY

The Indianapolis Colts lost Bobby Okereke in free agency but they kept the depth of the linebacker unit strong strong by re-signing EJ Speed.

On Monday, the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period, the inevitable for the Indianapolis Colts happened: linebacker Bobby Okereke agreed to sign with another team. After establishing himself as a top linebacker in the league in four years with the Colts, Okereke agreed to join the New York Giants on a four-year, $40 million deal. Although it was expected, it was still tough to see that Okereke’s time in Indianapolis is over.

The Colts letting Okereke walk made sense because the team has Shaq Leonard and Zaire Franklin under contract, two very good linebackers. However, one of Indianapolis’ defensive strengths was depth at linebacker. This offseason threatened that depth with both Okereke and EJ Speed entering free agency. Luckily, Indy was able to retain one of the two linebackers.

On Monday, while Okereke was agreeing to join the Giants, the Colts were working on re-signing EJ Speed. Late Monday night, it was reported that Speed would be re-signing with Indy on a two-year deal worth eight million dollars. Speed took to Twitter to confirm the news and also posted a picture of himself in Indy’s uniform.

Colts re-sign EJ Speed in free agency

This is great news for Indianapolis and could be a lowkey signing that has the potential to be really impactful, similar to Zaire Franklin’s signing last offseason. Although Speed isn’t a full-time starter, he is key depth player and is phenomenal on special teams. He has shown that he has the talent to start in this league, and there was a chance that another team would be willing to give him that opportunity.

However, it’s an incredibly deep free agent linebacker class, so things worked out so that Speed is returning to the Colts and will continue his ascent. Last season was Speed’s best year in the league, as he played in all 17 games and recorded 63 tackles, seven for a loss, one sack, and two forced fumbles.

With Speed set to return, he will continue contributing for the Colts in three linebacker packages, and will also be prepared to fill in for Franklin and Leonard. If either of those two have to miss time, Indianapolis will be in good shape with EJ Speed steppin up.

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