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Will the Redskins franchise tag Orakpo?

Jan 22, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

Orakpo

Will the Redskins use the franchise tag on Brian Orakpo?

The pending free agent linebacker is headed to his third Pro Bowl in five years in the league. He is coming off of perhaps his best all-around season since he entered the league in 2009. Orakpo is not a truly dominant pass rusher but he’s one of the better ones out there and since pass defense starts with pass rush and it’s a passing league teams will be willing to pay Orakpo very well for his services.

If the Redskins think that the bidding for Orakpo could get out of hand, including a scenario where a team with a ton of cap space like the Raiders or Jaguars swoops in and puts a huge deal on the table for him, the franchise tag would be an option for them.

The exact amount of the franchise tag tender for linebackers can’t be determined until the 2014 salary cap is set but it is expected to be in the neighborhood of $11 million.

That is a pretty hefty amount. Does Orakpo deserve to make about as much as the likes of Terrell Suggs ($12.4 million in 2014), Tamba Hali ($11.5 million), and Clay Matthews ($11.1 million) and more than NFL sack leader Robert Mathis ($8.75 million)? Probably not but that doesn’t mean that the Redskins should not consider the franchise tag for him.

The upside for the team is that it gives them flexibility. It’s a one-year deal. If Orakpo has a down year due to injury or other reasons the team will not be stuck with a big contract going forward. The team can see how he does in 2014 and then decide if they want to sign or franchise him in 2015. Tagging Orakpo for the second straight year would cost the higher of the tender amount for that year or 120 percent of his 2014 earnings ($13.2 million).

One disadvantage of using the tag is that all of the salary is charged to that season’s cap. An $11 million hit would eat up about a third of the Redskins’ available space, leaving them with less to address their myriad of other needs. A long-term deal could be structured to take up less cap space in the early seasons.

While getting tagged in back to back years is not what most players want, it might not be a bad deal for Orakpo. He would get over $24 million over two years, just under the average per year that Matthews is getting on the extension he signed last year. The downside for him is the lack of security. If he doesn’t play well enough in 2014 to warrant getting tagged again he likely will end up signing a smaller deal than he would be able to get this year.

But it’s not up to Orakpo; the CBA puts that decision in the hands of the team. They have some time so figure it out. They can designate a franchise player as early February 17 and the deadline is March 3. If they do tag Orakpo the two sides would have until July 15 to agree on a long-term contract. After that Orakpo will have to play out the season under the tag.

  1. colmac69 - Jan 22, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Give him new contract..he proved this yr he worth new deal…maybe around ten mill….think he only going to get better especially if we get better players on defense which is xpected

  2. joeregotti - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Can the Skins franchise him and trade him? I think New England may have done that with Matt Cassel. What is the highest tender offer with the Skins can make with highest draft pick compensation on Orakpo?

    I think Rob Jackson did well as a replacement 2 years ago, when we finished 10-6…for $10 million we could sign a couple of safeties, a cornerback, or offensive tackle. I just don’t think he makes that big of a difference to warrant picking up two players of need for the same price. we also need draft picks.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:05 PM

      You can franchise and trade him, yes. Doesn’t work out very often but it can be done. Thing is, you have to be prepared to handle the salary if you can’t trade him. If he signs the tender the salary becomes fully guaranteed.

      I like Rob but he had 4.5 sacks last year in 14 starts after Orakpo went out. Pretty good in coverage but not the guy you want to rely on as your bell cow in the pass rush.

      • manchild157 - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:34 PM

        Rich- even though Jackson and Tapp don’t have stellar stats but could hold the fort down for 1 more year while the staff retools the secondary. If secondary is better we can get by without spending 1/3 of this years cap on 1 player.

    • v6volume - Jan 22, 2014 at 2:30 PM

      Why would you want to trade him. People are already pissed about Haslett coming back. What would the fanbase do if they trade away one of our pillars on defense? Plus, what would get back in return? Maybe a low 1st or maybe a 2nd. It’s not worth it. Trade him and might as well cut the rest of the defense because they have no incentive to play

  3. toonloonboon - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    when has this 3-4 defense been any good with him on the field? nobody, and i mean NOBODY in washington is not expendable.

  4. darrynhyman - Jan 22, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    He has not proven to be worth a huge contract…why would you tie up so much cap space on an “okay” player? The names you mentioned in your piece have much more productive over the years than he has. 10 sacks is like the 1000 yard rusher…solid, but not special. How many of his sacks came in the 1st quarter on 1st or 2nd down vs. in the second half on 3rd down? He is not a money player…perenially good teams like the Pats, Steelers, Eagles, etc. don’t overpay guys like Orakpo, they let them go and its next man up. Give a Jackson/Jenkins combo a try and see what you get. We won’t be able to address every position this offseason because the needs are too many. See what Jackson/Jenkins can do and if they are not the answer, try to get an all star talent next year

    • manchild157 - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      I totally agree with what you’re saying darryn.

  5. mlandon24 - Jan 22, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    One thing not mentioned is that Rak does not rush the QB as often as Suggs, Hali, Matthews, and Freeney. His role is specific to the Redskins scheme whether we like that scheme or not. Their scheme too often required outside rushing to keep contain rather than being able to do an inside pass move while jeopardizing losing the edge. Stunts with the dlineman helped down the tail end of the season no doubts. There are A LOT of other factors pointing to the “mediocre” 10 sacks Rak got. He improved against the run and pass this season. When he has an opportunity to rush, he is effective.

    • darrynhyman - Jan 22, 2014 at 7:11 PM

      He didn’t keep contain very well…how many times did we see him over pursue or miss those edge tackles? He’s is just an “okay” player….but we as Washington fans, as we normally do, overrate our own players. Who is watching enough games of KC, Balt., GB, or Indy to say how much those other players rush the passer?….we truly have no idea. We can make all the excuses for him that we want…the bottom line results are 2009-11, 2010-8.5, 2011-9, 2012- 1(inj),2013-10, this is 5 yrs of just being a solid player. Again, the good franchises don’t overpay for that level of production.

      • internetcareer - Jan 22, 2014 at 8:09 PM

        you are basically right that Orakpo isn’t perfect but he played the run pretty well this year and he is slightly better than okay…but the real problem here is there isn’t a pass rusher on the market that we can get to replace him. Even a free agent like Michael Johnson in Cincy would probably demand 7 or 8 million per year as a Defensive End on a solid defense….and yet he has 3.5 sacks. So WHO would you replace RAK with because ya just can’t say NO without saying WHO replaces those 10 sacks and solid run play.

        • manchild157 - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:44 PM

          Internet- if we improve our secondary, which is surely the plan of the staff, then it makes the lb’s job a little easier, thus decreasing the need to spend 1/3 of this years cap money on 1 player. Let Jackson, Tapp, and Jenkins battle it out for starting job and use the others for different schemes. His stats are from a player who had a future contract to play for and like you said ”Orakpo’s not perfect”.

      • aprilwalker2013 - Jan 22, 2014 at 10:34 PM

        He is a okay player? 3 pro bowls in 4 years in league?? Wow! One of best D players we have, we can’t get an entire new D!! Keep best we have and move on.. Keep RAK!! HTTR

        • manchild157 - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:29 PM

          April- you can’t use Pro Bowl status as a resume because of the new format. He makes it because better players are either in the Super Bowl or are injured, In by default. Average 2nd tier olb with a penchant for injuries…let him walk.

        • aprilwalker2013 - Jan 23, 2014 at 3:03 PM

          Know how proBowl are picked, but thanks anyway! Doesn’t change fact he’s one best we have. Haz already said was one of top priorities to keep him, I’m guessing he stays. Not trying to be rude, I know a tad about football, 3/4 years to pro bowl says a little about how good you are..just saying..

    • Anthony - Jan 22, 2014 at 8:48 PM

      I’m sorry but you wrong when you watch Rak coming off the edge he doesn’t have that pop to finish off that sack. He gets close but he lacks that pop to beat his man.

  6. timwillhidetimwillhide - Jan 22, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    I say let him go Rob Jackson and Darrell Tapp have proven to be decent. replacements and they could use that money elswhere.

  7. internetcareer - Jan 22, 2014 at 7:59 PM

    Franchise is absolutely the way to go for a player with injury and production concerns. PLUS…PLUS if Brandon Jenkins ends up performing well in spot duty when Orakpo gets injured…then Jenkins can replace him in 2015 for about 11 million dollars less.

    • aprilwalker2013 - Jan 22, 2014 at 10:35 PM

      Agree..,keep him anyway you have to! HTTR

  8. Anthony - Jan 22, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    If the Redskins want to make a statement and build the team right then they need to let Orakpo walk. The team have way too many needs. I know pass rush and back end help is needed. Let’s face it we have way’s to go before we can contend with the 49ers or the Hawks. We have a hard time in our weak division. My advice would be spend wisely and draft smart. Follow the Ravens blue print

    • redskinscaio - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      You couldn’t be more wrong. The Raven have two players on defense with salaries over 11 million, Hiloti Nagta and Suggs and Orakpo is entering the prime of his career so you’re totally contradicting yourself.

      • skins51186 - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with Anthony, but come on bro. Suggs and Ngata are on another level. Orakpo is the next tier, which isn’t a bad thing by any means.

  9. aprilwalker2013 - Jan 22, 2014 at 10:28 PM

    Haz wants him back, so I see him back! Maybe I’m being hopeful or whatever but when read Haz comments today, seemed like was a top priority for team! Unless I read it wrong!! HTTR

  10. redskinscaio - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    Re-signing Orakpo is the number one priority of the Skins. Kerrigan and Orakpo are the foundational pieces you build a team around. This is a no-brainer. Sign him long-term, make him a Redskin for life. Long term deal please.

  11. redskinscaio - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Orakpo is the only current free agent Redskin I would give a long term deal and I hate long term deals….

  12. colmac69 - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    Sign orapko and riley to long term contracts then kerrigan nxt yr u got three starting linebackers for nxt 4-5 yrs all in their best yrs…get blocks in place for defense stability nxt few yrs

  13. joker4u904 - Jan 29, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    Did any of you guys listen to what rak said? He’s not goin to stay in washington. He is “goin to take full advantage of free agency” and go to the place that is goin to pay him the most/has the best fit for him. The only way he’s in Washington next yr is if the tag him.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 29, 2014 at 6:32 PM

      His agent trained him well. No hometown discount. Regardless, I think the Redskins will end up franchising him.

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