GM says Okoye not likely to return to Bears

All signs initially pointed to the Chicago Bears bringing back defensive tackle Amobi Okoye.

Now, that is unlikely to happen.

General manager Phil Emery, speaking on a teleconference Wednesday night with a group of the club’s season-ticket holders, said he expects the free agent to head elsewhere. Cincinnati, Denver and Tampa Bay are expected to be possible destinations.

“Right now, Amobi is trying to decide which direction he is going," Emery said. "We've had conversations with him. So far, we have not been able to work out a deal. Amobi is probably going in a different direction.”

Although the 24-year-old Okoye made only one start last season, he played in all 16 games and was second on the Bears in playing time for interior linemen as he participated in 54.9 percent of the team’s snaps. He had four sacks and 27 quarterback pressures and the belief was the former first-round pick of the Houston Texans was a good fit for Lovie Smith’s scheme.

Now, the Bears will have to replace Okoye and the club already released nose tackle Anthony Adams. The Bears are also in need of a third defensive end. Expect the draft to have a heavy defensive influence. More than three weeks into free agency, we’ll see if this is a sign Okoye is prepared to sign soon.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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