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DE Okeafor is Arizona's latest key pickup

Arizona signed defensive end Chike Okeafor to a five-year contract...

TEMPE, Ariz. (March 7, 2005) -- Arizona signed defensive end Chike Okeafor to a five-year contract, the Cardinals' third big free agent addition in five days.

Okeafor follows offensive tackle Oliver Ross, who signed March 4, and quarterback Kurt Warner, who agreed to a deal March 6. Warner will sign his contract and hold a news conference March 8.

"I've been a big believer since the day I got here that Arizona has all the ingredients to attract the top NFL free agents, and our three signees are a great indication of that," second-year coach Dennis Green said.

Like the others, Okeafor provides a strong upgrade at his position. He was Seattle's left defensive end last season and had a career-high 8½ sacks after recording eight the previous season.

He also had two sacks and four tackles in the Seahawks' 27-20 loss to St. Louis in an NFC wild card game Jan. 8.

Okeafor, who also visited Denver, said during his visit to Arizona headquarters on Saturday that it was obvious Green is serious about shaking the Cardinals' doormat image.

"From playing against them and watching on film, there is some heart there," he said.

Okeafor, 28, was interested in the Cardinals in 2003, when he became a free agent after four years with San Francisco. But they were put off by a neck injury, and he signed with the Seahawks instead.

"He's been a productive player, especially over the last two years," Arizona football operations vice president Rod Graves said. "He's young and getting better all the time, and the thing that impressed us most about him is his effort on the field. He's a continual, high-effort player, and that's the kind of attitude we're building this defense with."

Okeafor will play opposite right defensive end Bertrand Berry, who had 14½ sacks last season and was a Pro Bowl starter, and should give the team with a formidable pass rush.

The Cardinals had 38 sacks last season after three years when they totaled an NFL-low 61.

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