Chargers have no excuse to not keep CJ Okoye in the organization

It has become clear pretty quickly that CJ Okoye is more than just a feel-good story for the Chargers.
Los Angeles Chargers v Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Chargers v Los Angeles Rams / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

The NFL established the International Player Pathway Program (IPPP) back in 2017 to open the foor for international athletes to play the game as well as to glow the game to a global audience. Six years later the LA Chargers finally took advantage of the IPPP, signing Nigeria's CJ Okoye.

The six-foot-six, 315-pound Okoye stood out at NFL Africa Camp, winning offensive most valuable player for his play on the offensive line. Now that he is with an organization and is getting professional reps, Okoye has been moved to the defensive side of the ball on the defensive line.

And despite never playing football before in his life (or even knowing what a sack was), Okoye has shown a lot of potential in the preseason thus far for the Chargers. He sacked Stetson Bennett in his first preseason game and played several really promising series the following week against the New Orleans Saints.

While it has been amazing to see Okoye turn so many heads in his NFL debut, this should be much more than a feel-good story for the Chargers. Thanks to the IPPP, the Chargers

Chargers have no excuse to not keep CJ Okoye in the organization

Some fans are petitioning for Okoye to make the 53-man roster for the Chargers after the way he has played this preseason. That is a bit extreme. As promising as Okoye has looked, including someone with two football games in his entire life on the roster would be a bold decision.

While he might not be kept on the active roster, Okoye should absolutely be kept around on the practice squad. As an IPPP player, Okoye can be on the Chargers' practice squad and not count toward the team's 16-player count. Okoye cannot be elevated to the roster in 2023 with his IPPP exception, but he can be kept in the organization so he can continue to grow.

And that could open doors for the future. There is obviously potential there and if the Chargers keep Okoye in the organization they can tap into that potential. And who knows, by 2024 Okoye might be a lock to make the roster as a rotational defensive lineman.

Sure, another team could theoretically scoop Okoye off of waivers and sign him to the 53-man roster if the Chargers were to try and put him on the practice squad. But in reality, no NFL team is going to bring in an external player with no NFL experience that they have not seen firsthand and guarantee them a roster spot.

The ball is in the Chargers' court to make sure that Okoye sticks around in some capacity to potentially become and impact player in the future. There is no excuse for the team to not make it happen.