Redskins Mailbag: Brian Orakpo's Value, London Fletcher's Replacement & Roy Helu's Role

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With all the doom and gloom of the Redskins being 0-3, I thought doing a breakdown post today wouldn't help anybody's mood. So instead I took to twitter to look for questions for a mailbag post.

First question.

The question is do the Redskins value Brian Orakpo as an elite NFL pass rusher, or in a tier below elite? Orakpo will certainly be arguing that he's an elite talent and deserves to be paid as such. If the Redskins agree, then they would be looking at a huge contract that matches the other elite rushers in the NFL. Here's the numbers of recent extensions for some elite guys.

DeMarcus Ware: Six years, $78 million, $40 million guaranteed in 2009.

Terrell Suggs: Six years, $63 million, $38 million guaranteed in 2009.

Tamba Hali: Five years, $60 million, $35 million guaranteed in 2011.

LaMarr Woodley: Six years, $61.5 Million in 2011.

Clay Matthews: Five years, $66 million in 2013.

If then, Orakpo is seen by Washington as an elite rusher, he'll be looking at a 5-6 year extension for around $63 million, with around $35 million of that guaranteed. That's a pretty high price to pay, in my opinion, for a guy that has missed significant time with back to back torn pectoral muscle injuries. I don't believe his play so far merits that kind of extension right now. I haven't seen him really dominate a game the way the players listed above have. I would place him in the tier below. Guys like Connor Barwin, Elvis Dumervil, Paul Kruger both hit the open market recently and received similar deals.

Connor Barwin: Six years, $36 million.

Elvis Dumervil: Five years, $35 million, $12 million guaranteed.

Paul Kruger: Five years, $40 million.

That's more in line with what I think the Redskins will be looking at. Getting him at that price would be fairly good value for the Redskins, but would be a hard sell to Orakpo. I expect he'll be pushing for something closer to the elite range, looking for a minimum of around $50 million over five years. Much depends on how the rest of this season plays out for him.

The alternative for the Redskins could be to franchise tag him and give him one more season to play for a big contract. The franchise tag numbers for linebackers last year was $9.619 million in 2013, but this could cause a rift between the two sides and might lead to Orakpo holding out.

I can't imagine it's all that high right now. He missed the majority of last season because of his second torn pectoral muscle. So far this season, his only sack was registered because Barry Cofield got quick pressure up the middle and forced Aaron Rodgers to turn blindly straight into Orakpo. His run defense hasn't improved as well as hoped, and he's below average in coverage. Any buying team would be trading for an elite talent, but hoping that a change of scenery could help him play to his full potential.

Given the fact he is also in a contract year and looking for a big extension, his value is lessened. Not only would a team have to pay the trade price for him, they'd have to know they could sign him to an extension or he's not worth the year rental. It's a somewhat similar situation to Bills safety Jairus Byrd, who some believe wouldn't be traded for more than a third or fourth round pick. Safeties are valued less than pass rushers, but Bryd is a proven elite NFL player.

With that in mind, I think you'd struggle to get a second round pick for him, and you probably wouldn't want any less for a player of his talent and potential. But a question for you all, would you trade Orakpo for Byrd straight up if given the option?

Next question.

I've always believed that technically, Perry Riley will move over and replace London Fletcher when he finally decides to pack it in. So in that regard, yes, Fletcher's replacement is on the roster. But that then begs the question, who takes the role vacated by Riley? I believe Keenan Robinson will be the man to step up.

Robinson's development has been delayed by tears to both pectoral muscles, but had been on track to play a significant role going forward. His athleticism sets him apart from Fletcher and Riley. He has the size and speed to stay with the athletic receiving tight ends in coverage, who Washington have struggled to defend for a number of years now. In limited snaps last year, we also saw flashes of improvement in defending the run.

But the injures have set him back. If he can't come back to where he was or if Riley isn't up to the task of running the defense, then that leaves the spot up for grabs. Nick Barnett has to prove he can stay healthy and be reliable for the Redskins as he takes some of the workload off of London Fletcher, but if he can, he's the next most viable option. It's hard to see Bryan Kehl making the improvements required to take the role and Will Compton is unlikely to move from practice squad to starter in one season.

If Riley, Robinson and Barnett can't fill the void, which I believe they can, Washington would have to look outside of the organisation for an answer.

He's still adjusting back to life in the NFL after a big knee injury. Right now his biggest concern should be getting back his muscle memory and learning to trust his knee again. He's lacked the reps in OTAs and training camp to get himself comfortable enough with his knee that he can fully concentrate on taking the next step forward as a passer.

I think next year, assuming a clean bill of health and that he fully participates in practice over the entire off-season, we might see him more in control and calling audibles. But before he gets to that point, he has to establish consistency in progressing through reads and reading the defense. Until he gets to a point that he can consistently diagnose what the defense is throwing at him and go through his progressions effeciently, then we won't see any Peyton Manning-style audibles.

Last question.

Well, he's played 100 of the 219 possible snaps so far this season, according to ProFootballFocus. His primary role has been as a third down back and as a protection back in the turbo offense. He has only registered one carry for five yards (he took a draw play for 20 yards, but it was called back for holding), but I'd point to the fact that Alfred Morris has only averaged 13 carries a game thus far.

The problem is, Washington have been playing catch up for most of the season, leading them to pass the ball more than they run it. That will continue until the Redskins find themselves playing with a lead, something their offense has only had for one snap so far this season.

Helu could, and probably should, be used in the screen game more. He's averaging nearly 10 yards a catch on his five catches, and has proven in the past he's a legitimate weapon out of the backfield. He provides a solid checkdown option for Griffin, but right now I believe the Redskins would prefer to keep him in the backfield as a sixth blocker to help keep Griffin safe in the pocket.

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