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Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays

Should the Redskins use the franchise tag on Brian Orakpo?

Mitchell Layton

1. Slow news weeks in the dog days of the offseason are a bit of a different beast in the NFL. With many teams weeks removed from actual football, it stands to reason that fans in those cities are lacking the sustenance that is so often served by sports outlets. I suppose that when it can't be news about your own team, you will take what you can get. The Wells Report kind of blew the lid off of that, eh?

2. I am sure we aren't done with it, but for today, the real question I have is: As a fan of a team with real issues on the offensive line, would you want Jonathan Martin coming to your town via trade or signing? Everything that goes with that is fair game for this discussion. Even though we aren't in the locker room, I think we can theorize some things that could go down upon his arrival. I am certain there are teams that will not touch that kid with a 100-foot pole. I am also certain that there are teams that don't have the luxury of owning poles that long.

3. Let's talk franchise tags! Woo-hoo! The Franchise Tag Window is open! The next question is, of course, should the Redskins use their franchise tag on Brian Orakpo?

4. Franchise tag or not, Brian Orakpo would be a tough player to have to replace. Whether it is a new contract or the use of the tag, don't we have to keep a player like this in uniform here? If not, who do you propose we replace him with? Our depth at linebacker is atrocious. Are we going to save money by pursuing some other free agent out there? Are we going to bypass using one of our precious draft picks on other areas of need so we can attempt to find his replacement there? Further, can you replace a pass rushing specialist of his ability in the second or third rounds? I tip my hat to Steve Shoup for helping me get my head right on this. I simply don't think we have a real choice when it comes to bringing Orakpo back. If not him, than who?

5. The fact that #98 plays linebacker helps the team considerably. Defensive ends are paid considerably more on average. The franchise tag for a defensive end is millions more than one for a linebacker (at least two I think). Orakpo is a pass rusher. Every team needs pass rushers. He is not a luxury player because of that--he is a need player. You might consider that signing him to a free agent deal could save us some money because of his injury situation in recent seasons or his less-than-skirt-blowing stats. To test that theory though, you might have to let him test free agency. Doing that could cause other teams to throw defensive end money at him. Take a team like the Tennessee Titans for example. They are talking about doing any number of things on defense under Ken Whisenhunt, but I hear over and over again that they will be hot to trot for a pass rusher in free agency. They won't be the only ones. A guy like Brian Orakpo is going to be courted because he does something that every team in the league needs: he rushes the passer. It almost doesn't matter how many sacks he actually got...almost.

6. Brian Orakpo is still relatively young (27, will be 28) and he still has some gas in the tank. It matters that we drafted him. It matters that players we draft get second contracts. How much does it matter? Probably not as much as I would like to believe--but keep in mind, we spent a decade kicking our own players out the door in favor of over-priced free agents. I am over-compensating here. We know that the players respect the hell out of him, which also matters. I recall the Donovan McNabb saga a few seasons ago. When the players reported to camp after that miserable year and #5 was still a Redskin, who was it that stood in front of the microphones and demanded that the situation get handled in a hurry so that they could get to work? It was Orakpo. Intangibles, tangibles...the guy has more than enough to warrant getting paid by this team. Maybe it won't always be the case, but the Washington Redskins can not afford to lose a guy like this right now. If a new contract can not be agreed to in time, the Redskins should use the franchise tag on #98 to protect their best interests. There isn't much about 3-13 that demands retention, but you can't improve very much in this league without pass rushers.