Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo has been the subject of much uncertainty this offseason, as there was once a debate regarding whether or not the Redskins should even keep him around. Although he is one of the best pass rushers in the game, some believed Orakpo didn’t show enough playmaking ability to warrant the type of large contract that the Redskins would have to give him, and the team’s needs in the defensive backfield complicated things. While a great pass rush alleviates plenty of pressure off of a secondary, some worried that if the Redskins spent too much on Orakpo, they wouldn’t be able to pursue bigger upgrades in the secondary. The Redskins, of course, franchised Orakpo, added former Dallas Cowboys star DE Jason Hatcher, and made only small upgrades to one of the league’s worst secondaries (their biggest move was re-signing DeAngelo Hall for too much money).
Today is the deadline for reaching long-term deals with players set to enter the 2014 season on the franchise tag, and the New Orleans Saints have already agreed to a hefty deal with superstar tight end Jimmy Graham. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports, however, that the Redskins aren’t expected to follow suit, so it looks like Orakpo will enter the season on the franchise tag and with an uncertain future.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that the Redskins will likely let Orakpo play on the franchise tag, and there seems to be a belief that the team would like Orakpo to prove that he’s a top-level pass rusher. He had ten sacks last season and has been productive throughout his career, especially at providing consistent pressure, and he faced difficult matchups all season long, with teams frequently double-teaming and chipping him. Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden, and the rest of the Redskins organization appear to be content with letting things play out, but it’s a risky move, since Orakpo could play himself out of their range. If the Redskins are willing to pay whatever it takes to lock him up if he has a career year, then that shouldn’t be an issue.