The Washington Redskins had a difficult decision to make regarding their top free agent priority this offseason, as there was no doubt that they wanted to keep a guy as talented as star outside linebacker Brian Orakpo on the team going forward. However, the Redskins also knew that they would have to spend a huge amount of money on Orakpo in order to keep him around, and that money could be spent on upgrades at other positions (mostly in the secondary) as well. Orakpo is a star player who is easily the team’s best player on a terrible defense, but upgrading other positions on that defense is also a priority for the Redskins.
After mulling their options and wrestling with the idea of letting Orakpo go this offseason, the Redskins ultimately decided to slap the $11.455 million franchise tag on him earlier today. This was always the expected move, but the Redskins were very close to simply letting their star player walk. He would have received a massive payday on the open market, and I’m sure he’ll receive a huge contract with the Redskins as well. The franchise tag is never a good solution, as it’s merely used to extend the negotiating time to a long period. The Redskins have that period to work with, and it’s clear that both sides will need to come to a compromise in order to avoid Orakpo leaving next offseason or a similar, uncertain situation unfolding.
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported earlier today that Orakpo doesn’t plan on signing his franchise tender “as of now”, and this was a rather vague report that could have either showed apathy on the part of Orakpo or a willingness to get a long-term deal done. The Washington Post’s Mark Maske clarified things by tweeting out this quote from Orakpo’s agent Ben Dogra, “We will continue to communicate in hopes of reaching a long-term deal at some point.”
Redskins fans will certainly hope that this can get done sooner rather than later, since a long-term deal would lower Orakpo’s salary for 2014 and give the team more flexibility to make upgrades in free agency this offseason.