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Need to Know: What are the Redskins’ options with Orakpo in 2015?

Jul 16, 2014, 4:59 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 16, eight days before the Redskins start training camp.

Three and out

Yesterday’s 4 p.m. deadline for Brian Orakpo to sign a long-term contract with the Redskins came and went without a deal being done. He’ll play this year on a one-year, $11.45 million contract. Let’s fast forward to 2015 and consider how this might play out.

—A lot of how 2015 plays out will depend on what happens the rest of 2014. If Orakpo is healthy and produces, say, 15 sacks and makes some game-changing plays the Redskins will work on a way to keep him, either with a big money, long-term deal or by using the franchise tag again. If he gets 10 low-impact sacks and doesn’t do much in the turnover department they might be inclined to let him walk unless he signs a very team friendly deal. And by “team friendly” I mean something with a cap number in the $7 million to $8 million range that the team with a fairly low amount of guaranteed money.

—The reason the Redskins will base much of their decision on how Orakpo performs this year is that they are giving him everything he needs to be successful. They spent $10 million in guaranteed month to land Jason Hatcher to give him some help with an inside pass rush. They spent their top draft pick on Trent Murphy, who will line up with Orakpo in certain packages and draw some more attention away from him. The team brought in coach Brian Baker to coach his position and refine his pass rush technique. Jim Haslett has promised his scheme will feature more aggressive rush and less containment responsibilities. If he can’t become a top pass rusher under those circumstances at the age of 28 there isn’t much hope that he ever will.

—As noted, the Redskins will have the option of tagging Orakpo again in 2015. The issue with counting on that strategy is that players generally don’t like getting the tag for a second time. This time around, Orakpo signed the tender before the offseason program started. That let him participate on OTAs and obligated him to come to minicamp and training camp. But things might not go quite so smoothly the next time around. Orakpo’s camp might want to play hardball and take the only course of action they can, withhold the player’s services. We’re a long way from that happening but it’s one more thing that both sides have to consider as this situation plays out.

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—It’s been 199 days since the Redskins played a game; in 53 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener vs. Patriots 22; Final cuts 45; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 61

Redskins take wait and see approach with Orakpo.

In case you missed it

  1. RussianBreadMaker - Jul 16, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    Here is an option… let him walk. Any player that constantly complains that they are being held are not the types of players we need on the team. Orakpo needs to stop complaining and find a solution… he is slightly above average at best. Just being honest here.

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 16, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      Since you’re now mentioned it twice, I’d like to see multiple quotes where Orakpo complains about being held in his five seasons in the NFL. I’ve covered the team full time since his rookie season and I can recall him talking being held once or twice. Now, a lot of fans complain about him being held and I’ve posted some pictures of uncalled holds from time to time, joining some others in the media who discuss it. I remember Haslett talking about it on occasion. But I don’t see Orakpo himself talking about being held with any regularity, at least not to the point he “needs to stop”.

      I don’t have a photographic memory and if I’m not recalling multiple quotes of Orakpo talking about getting held I’ll be happy to say I’m wrong.

  2. cowboyhater - Jul 16, 2014 at 8:36 AM

    You watch this guy against the run?…not good folks. Giving a one trick pony a ton of money when you will have upcoming contracts that will take more of a priority is not a smart move. Does anyone know what the actual guarantee money is for Hatcher? Just didn’t like giving this guy that kind of money at his age. Doesn’t matter how little his body has been battered at his age…age is age and your body will let you know that. I think we will regret that signing. Our D line is old, and just don’t know how they will hold up this year. If they can’t fill gaps, and take blockers, our LB’s will have trouble getting to the QB, which will reflect in how our DB’s will play this year. So basically what I’m saying is I think our defense will be our demise, and having an overrated DC running our defense will add that insult to injury. Let’s just hope the offense can score a lot points this year.

    • rtcwon - Jul 16, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      He did struggle against the run…4 years ago. Last year he was a flat out beast in the run game. Sixth in the entire NFL in tackles for loss. The only linebacker with more plays 4-3 mike, not a pass rusher.

      Compared to the “elite” pass rushers, Orakpo is heads and shoulders better than all of them at both run and pass coverage. Kudos to him for turning weaknesses into strengths and becoming an all around linebacker. The irony is he probably would have got paid if he focused on being a one trick pony instead of improving his overall game.

      But he doesn’t make the elite cut because he doesn’t make enough sports center plays. We’ll see what happens this year but short of a deep playoff run causing emotional appeal hometown discount, I don’t see him back next year. Too many teams will line up to pay him because almost elite is drastically better than what 25 other teams currently have.

      (btw-Hatcher got $10.5M g, so if healthy $5.25M cap hit for 2015 & only $4.5M dead if cut in 2016 but if hurt and cut in 2015 $6.75M dead – whatever happens plenty of cap room for RG3, Williams, Morris & Kerrigan)

      • cowboyhater - Jul 17, 2014 at 7:49 AM

        You can put out any stat you want, but my eyes see what I see every Sunday. He is not an impact player that he states he is, nor is he great in space. His tackles came behind the line of scrimmage because that’s where he finds himself on most plays, even the ones when the RB runs right by him to gain big chunks of yardage, or when they catch a ball in his area of responsibility because he over commits himself in the backfield. I like how you think they will have this magical money ready for the players that will be coming to the end of their rookie contracts readily available if they commit 11mil to Rak for 3 years. Based off your love fest for Rak, you should consider becoming his agent.

  3. adonahoe82 - Jul 16, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    I know players don’t like to be franchised but i don’t understand why, especially in Orakpo’s current situation. He went from making around 4 mil/year to 11! If he gets tagged again he will be making close to 14 mil for one season. I guess i understand the job security and the guaranteed money aspect but he just almost tripled his money this year from last. So why such a bad thing?

    my opinion is unless he wants to stay for 7-8 mil/year they need to let him walk. The Redskins will never be able to build a competitive roster shelling out huge contracts like the one he is seeking. They also have to keep in mind RG3, Alfred Morris, Ryan Kerrigan (among others) contracts will be coming to an end soon and those guys are looking and deserve to be paid as well and will certainly be making way more than there rookie contracts.

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 16, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      It’s a short career and can end at any time. He should fight for every dollar he can get.

      $7-$8 million is lowball, he’s better than that. More than about $11 million/year on a long-term deal is too much. The right number is somewhere in between, we’ll see if they get there.

  4. Michael - Jul 16, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    It’s a bit duplicitous to say that with all of those tools around him, “if he can’t do it at 28, there is little chance he ever will…
    Case against your point. Hatcher.
    Last year was the first time he even sniffed double digit sacks.

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 16, 2014 at 3:46 PM

      It’s also the second year that Hatcher was a full-time player, something Orakpo was the moment he was drafted.

      Also, the Cowboys were not paying him eight-figure salaries while waiting for him to develop. He got paid when he produced.

  5. kenlinkins - Jul 16, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    Rich: Any idea what the hang up is for a long term deal for Orakpo? Is it money per year, number of years or “sure” money? One would have to think that the Redskins would offer something in the $8 to $9.5 million range per year for 4 years with about $17 million of sure money for the production they have seen to date. If not, then the Redskins did low ball him. The problem Orakpo will face in 2015 is that if he does have a great 2014 (say 14 sacks, 2 INT’s, and made impact plays that wins games) many will ask where was this production earlier. I Agree with you that maybe the Redskins are not yet sold on Orakpo and he might not be in their long term plans. Like it or not, Orakpo is playing for next years contract which he would like to be long term with many, many zero’s and I bet he doesn’t care who it is with as long as he get the dollar amounts he is looking for. I just hope he is still willing to play team football and not out to just pad his own numbers.

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 16, 2014 at 6:57 PM

      No numbers, not even general ones, leaked out during the negotiation. That’s a good sign that they likely just agreed to disagree and not negotiate through the media.


      • kenlinkins - Jul 17, 2014 at 6:36 AM

        Well, I give both sides credit for keeping it “In House”. That is very hard to do if the sides are very far apart and feel the other side is not playing fair. Thank Rich!

  6. mrhart76 - Jul 16, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    People will regret it if he leaves. The guy can play! Hatcher will help him big time! Archives

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