The Washington Redskins have always wanted to keep star outside linebacker Brian Orakpo around, and that’s no surprise given how talented he is and how little talent exists on the Redskins defense. But because Orakpo is so good, he would command a large amount of money on either a long-term deal or franchise tag, which would severely curtail the team’s ability to make the rest of the defense better. The Redskins had to weigh this decision heavily, but they have decided that keeping Orakpo around for at least one more year is worth it, even if it means paying him $11 million.
4:00 p.m. ET today is the deadline for teams to use the franchise tag, and the Redskins have announced their decision to slap the tag on the 27-year-old Texas product. If Orakpo had hit the free agent market, then he would have been one of the elite players available, and I’m sure he would have commanded something close to $8 or $9 million per year on about a five-year deal. He doesn’t light up the stat sheet, but he lights up offenses by consistently putting pressure on the quarterback and making the rest of the front seven look better.
The Redskins have ensured that their high-impact pass rusher will be around next season, so it’s clear that they love his talent enough to believe that he’s worth $11 million in the short-term. That’s a fair assumption, and the franchise tag was always the logical expectation. However, the Redskins had better work hard to get a long-term deal ironed out with him, otherwise they will be in for another saga next year. They shouldn’t overpay, but they should do their best to lower their cap number this season and lock up their star player for good.
He and Ryan Kerrigan are the building blocks of the Redskins defense, and the outside linebacker position is a crucial one in the 3-4. It only takes a quick look at the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs to see what a dynamic outside linebacker duo can do. Both Kerrigan and Orakpo are obviously effective pass rushers, but their solid work against the run is also important.