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Will Orakpo become a holdout?

Jul 29, 2009, 9:57 AM EDT

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Brian Orakpo's play at linebacker will be key to the Redskins' D this year

When will Brian Orakpo see the field?

With less than 24 hours remaining until the first practice the Washington Redskins have yet to sign their top draft pick, Brian Orakpo.

There has been no public negotiating which generally is a good sign. Michael Crabtree, the Texas Tech receiver taken at No. 10 is demanding top-three money, and that’s not sitting well with the 49ers management.

But no news isn’t necessarily good news. It would indicate that there is a waiting game going on involving the slotting system. Rookie contracts generally are based on slots. Basically, a player get a little more money than the player drafted immediately after him and a bit less than the one take right before him. This “system”, such as it is, relies on slots getting filled so that there is a basis for comparison at a given spot.

As of right now, though, there isn’t a slot to determine Orakpo’s deal; in fact it’s not even close. He’s in the middle of a gulf. The Texas defensive end/linebacker was taken with the 13th selection of the first round. On the higher side, the closest pick signed is Mark Sanchez, taken fifth overall. In addition to being eight picks away, Sanchez is a quarterback. They get the chicks and make more dough, so his deal is not a good basis for comparison.

On the low side is center Alex Mack, taken at No. 21 by Cleveland. So we’re looking at eight slots on that end. Orakpo is the man in the middle.

There is another way of getting this done. Mack got a deal that was 12% higher than that of the player taken 21st in 2008. The Redskins and Orakpo’s agents, Ben Dogra andMichael Lartigue of CAA, could look at the contract signed by Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart last year and add 12% to that. The result would be a five-year contract worth about $15.6 million. Start there, build in a few incentives, call it a deal, and get Orakpo out on the practice field.

This would serve the team and the player well but the agents will be hesitant of getting burned. God forbid the 12th pick and/or the 14th pick get deals 13% higher than last year. The reputations of Dorga and Lartigue would suffer (from their point of view, anyway), they would stand to be accused of leaving money on the table, and they believe they will have trouble lining up first-rounders in the future.

So, the waiting game continues. If Orakpo misses Thursday and Friday it won’t damage his development to any great extent. But I’ll bet you that by Friday, Greg Blache or another defensive coach will be lamenting his absence and saying that each lost day is like missing two days. Sometimes that’s just coach speak but in this case, with Orakpo being counted on the man two positions, it’s not too far from the truth.

It could be worse. The Washington Redskins could be having trouble getting a sixth-round pick into camp as the San Diego Chargers are. And they hardly are alone, with only five of the 32 first-round picks having inked contracts as of Wednesday morning. Still, it would be good to get the guy they’re counting on so much into the fray as soon as possible.

  1. fastwb - Jul 29, 2009 at 2:34 PM

    OK, what’s stopping him from just reporting and getting the deal done once things clear up? I’m sure its something obvious and I’ll feel dumb after you tell me but I seem to remember it being done before. BTW, what did you think of the football cards I made for this years’ picks? I know, Orakpo’s got no shortage of cards out there for real but I still like mine more than almost any of them.

  2. Rich - Jul 29, 2009 at 2:39 PM

    Can’t report without a deal. They can sign a waiver and do OTA’s and the like but once training camp starts, with real pads and real hitting, no participation even in meetings until you sign on the line.

    The cards look good. I just figured out how to magnify the back so that I can read them. Good work.

  3. fastwb - Jul 29, 2009 at 2:45 PM

    Thanks! Yeah, figuring out how best to present them is a bit of a pain. I’d like to to try to actually print up a couple actual cards to take with me to camp for autos. If I have any luck, maybe I can show you there.

  4. redrock - Jul 29, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    check out this interview with coach gibbs!!

    http://www.csnwashington.com/pages/multimedia_videos

  5. Joe in Raleigh - Jul 29, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    There are several concerns with Orakpo. First, I think it is a bad idea to take a rookie DE and ask him to be your starting SLB and Rush End. That’s demanding a lot from a guy who will be getting up to speed on the pro game.

    Second, I’m not sure how much wisdom there is in turning a very good defensive end into a linebacker. In general, I’d rather finally have a solution to the problems on the D Line and plug together a solution at LB than vice-versa.

    Third, the problem with the learning curve is exacerbated if they can’t get him into camp on time. This is always a concern with 1st round picks and the team should have seen this coming.

    Finally, I’m not sure we have a realistic backup plan if he turns out to not be a very good LB. It would be one thing if Marcus Wash was still on the roster.

    There is a lot of risk with the Orakpo plan and I’m not sure Vinny has thought it through very well.

  6. MARVIN DANIELS - Aug 27, 2009 at 11:08 AM

    I say you have nothing to lose but all to gain placing Brian Orakpo at either DE or SLB because this guys strength and speed is amazing. He’s a cross between a Ken Harvey and Dexter Manley in their rookie years. I feel he would fit both positions. His presence alternating at DE and SLB will throw any Offense off. Brian will be good for our Washington Redskins. If given the chance, he’s going to make believers out of all critics.

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