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Redskins have help wanted sign up at outside linebacker

Mar 24, 2014, 11:15 AM EST

Rob-Jackson-Dallas-INT

As free agency plods into its third week, most of the focus has been on the Redskins’ defensive backfield, the safety spot in particular. But there is another area on defense that will need to be shored up prior to the start of the season.

Outside linebacker is a vital position in the 3-4 defense and the Redskins find themselves a bit thin there at the moment. Starters Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are in place but the depth is lacking.

There were three backup OLB’s on the depth chart last year. Brandon Jenkins, last year’s fifth-round draft pick, is back. He played on defense in only four games last year, logging 41 snaps. The coaching staff talked him up all year as a player who would have been a first-round draft pick had he not missed his almost all of his senior season with a Lisfranc injury. He had eight sacks as a junior at Florida State.

Jenkins could be lining up with the starters when the offseason workouts start in two weeks. Orakpo hasn’t yet signed his franchise tag tender and he can’t participate until he does so. There has been no word on whether or not he plans to sign.

Chances are that Orakpo eventually will sign and when that happens Jenkins will remain somewhere on the depth chart. But it appears that the Redskins will have to replace the other two backups. Darryl Tapp, who played 86 snaps last year, has signed with the Lions. That’s a relatively minor loss.

The bigger departure would be that of Rob Jackson. He played 186 snaps last year and would have played a larger role had he not been suspended for a violation of the league’s PED policy for the first four games of the season. Although he hasn’t signed anywhere else yet, the word is that he won’t be back.

That leaves the Redskins in search of at least one backup outside linebacker. During the first week of free agency they had Anthony Spencer in for a visit and after some fairly extensive negotiations he left without a contract. He is still a free agent and he remains a possibility. But he is not yet fully recovered from microfracture surgery and the latest information is that he should be ready for training camp.

The Redskins were talking to Spencer in part because the pickings on the free agent market are quite slim. Shaun Phillips is the top 3-4 outside backer on the market and he’ll be 33 in May. Former Steeler and Bengal James Harrison is still a free agent but there hasn’t been any connecting of the dots between him and former Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden at this point.

The draft is another possibility. Since the starters are set they likely would shy away from taking an outside linebacker with their top pick. But if someone like Jeremiah Attaochu of Georgia Tech or Dee Ford of Auburn or Louisville’s Marcus Smith is there when their third-round pick rolls around it would not be surprising to see Bruce Allen nab him.

  1. kenlinkins - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    Is Jackson asking for too much money, does he want a chance to start somewhere or are the Redskins not interested in him? If you are correct that the Redskins might not want to sign Orakpo to a long term deal wouldn’t that open the door for Jackson here in DC? If Jackson feels he is a starter some where else, wouldn’t a Orakpo less Redskins team be a great place for Jackson to be in 2015? If the Redskins are willing to pay $11 million to Orakpo because Jackson was not the answer to replace him, why would other teams have a big interest in him? Is there really a $8 million dollar talent gap from Jackson to Orakpo? What am I missing as the logic doesn’t seem to add up here for me.

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      Lots of good questions, really no answers. All we’re getting is that there is no mutual interest in Jackson returning. Perhaps if he can’t start he’d like a bigger role in a rotation. Kerrigan rarely sits a down, Orakpo plays ~90%. Maybe he just wants more action.

      But that’s just speculation.

      > >

      • kenlinkins - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:10 PM

        Unless the Redskins believe that Jackson has topped out after watching him for 6 years and they signed him last year to a one year contract as cheap insurance due only to Orakpo’s injury in 2012 and not because Jackson played well in 2012 (which should have produced a longer term contract). In which case what the Redskins think about Orakpo would have nothing to do with signing Jackson this year. Does this make sense?

        • shermanp79 - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:22 PM

          I get the feeling they don’t get a long term deal done with RAK. Jackson isn’t the pass rusher or as talented as RAK. There is a big difference. It isn’t for no reason, Jackson has never been a starter. They wouldn’t of drafted Kerrigan if he was more than a sub. I think for cap reasons the Skins would prefer to go a different direction from RAK. They won’t sign both he and Kerrigan. I think Kerrigan is better at the coverage stuff. He produces more big plays than RAK. If they are lucky, they would be happy if Jenkins turned out to be who they think he could become, then either trade RAK(as I would) in a sign and trade next year or just let him go. They can’t put 20 million into 2 OLB. This year it makes sense because they have no other options. If the had a 1st rd pick I would love the guy from Buffalo, they could of grabbed him at #2, that would be great. I think RAK will have another pro bowl year. I think he gets to 15 sacks, so that will be worth the money. Through the years Pit and Balt have routinely replaced their top OLB when it came Big Money time. I think they go that route next year after they see Jenkins and whoever they draft. The Defense is much better with RAK this year over Jackson.

        • Rich Tandler - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:35 AM

          The Steelers and Ravens let their OLB’s go? I recall both Woodley and Harrison getting very large extensions. Ditto Terrell Suggs of the Ravens.

        • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:55 PM

          It does, except from a money sense.

          I’ll bet Rob Jackson feels like he earned better from the Skins than being relegated to the bench again in 2013.

          And the Skins are trying to retain Orakpo, so they’re not going to pay Jackson now.

          Result: No contract, or even contact.
          ~

  2. internetcareer - Mar 24, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    Stranger than stranger. Maybe it has something to do with special teams also. But I have always felt Jackson should replace Fletcher. Rob Jackson is a solid tackler…he can cover …..and he is a PLAYMAKER. Put him at inside linebacker and the problem of replacing Fletcher would have been solved instantly.

    I just disagree with the Redskins on this…much like I disagreed letting Carlos Rogers go, letting Ryan Clark go, letting Antonio Pierce go, and letting Chris WIlson go. We have a habit of drafting quality players, developing them, and then letting playmakers go at which point they make the Pro Bowl for another team.

    I disagree but I’m not in charge. But the Redskins have a history of making these kinds of mistakes.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Mar 25, 2014 at 8:40 PM

      So you would put a big guy with a defensive end body type at ILB? Teams would kill us over the middle and juke his ankles off of him running up the middle. Jackson is too big to play ILB and playing zone covering a guy in the flat is a whole different story than running with a TE or RB down the middle OLBs IN A 3-4 ARE LIKE DE IN A 4-3 THEY CANT PLAY MLB LEARN SOME FOOTBALL

  3. rcjur - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    Redskins can do without Tapp and Jackson. Recent LB pickups are good just get another LB in middle round of draft. Maybe the player Skov from Stanford in 5th.

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