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Deadline for Redskins to Sign Long-Term Deal With Brian Orakpo is Today

The Redskins made the last minute decision to franchise Orakpo, and don't appear ready to make a long-term commitment to him.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins and Brian Orakpo do not appear like they will be able to work out a long-term deal before today's 4PM deadline for players have received the franchise tag.  What does that mean for the Redskins?  It simply means that Orakpo will play out his $11.45 million franchise tag tender that he signed prior to the start of the team's offseason programs, and he will be a free agent again next season.  The Redskins will then face the same questions they had this year.

  • Is Orakpo elite, and does he deserve a top end contract for a 3-4OLB?
  • Do they franchise him again at the increased 120% rate(approximately $14million) next year?
  • Do they let him test free agency and probably sign elsewhere?
  • Do they have the players on the roster right now to replace him(Jenkins/Murphy) or will they need to replace him immediately in the draft or free agency?

There were reports from Redskins Park that there was a divide on whether or not to tag Orakpo this year.  Some felt that he was not worth the long-term commitment and money that Rak was looking for.  The Redskins did decide to keep him for one more year, and this will definitely be a huge decision making year for both parties.  At this year's owner's meetings, Head Coach Jay Gruden said "good pass rushers don't grow on trees", but he also stated that he was content  with letting Orakpo play out his franchise tag this year, and re-evaluate his deal after the season.  That could be taken as not thinking Rak's worth as much as he does, or the rosier perspective that has been suggested, he's just trying to motivate him.

Whatever the case may be, Brian Orakpo obviously feels that he has done his part for the Redskins during his time on the team.  He missed almost a full season due to his torn pec, but has been productive when healthy averaging over 9.5 sacks per season.  He showed some frustration when asked about having to prove himself earlier this year.

"Oh, I've got to prove myself again, huh? I don't have to prove myself to anybody. I'm already proven in this league. Like I said, I'm here. I have a great relationship with Coach Gruden. I have a great relationship with Bruce Allen, and I have a great relationship with Mr. Snyder, and I'm here. It is what it is. I signed my franchise tag. I'm here. So, play it out, whatever the case may be, I still want something long-term. But I'm not going to be in a situation where I'm holding out, this and that stuff and I'm a distraction and all that comes with it. But I don't need to prove anything to nobody. That goes for fans, that goes for media, anybody. I'm well proven in this league, and if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. I don't have to prove anything to anybody."

The Redskins had been preparing for the possibility of Orakpo leaving before he signed his franchise tag tender, and they will continue to prepare for that possibility since OLBs/pass rushers are so vital to any team, especially 3-4 teams.  The team brought in at least 4 OLBs before this year's draft for workouts. They drafted Trent Murphy with their first pick after trading back with the Cowboys who selected one of the Redskins' pre-draft OLB visitors, DeMarcus Lawrence, with their original pick.  Trent Murphy was the NCAA sack leader last season, and has been practicing at OLB and used in the nickel packages during OTAs/mini-camp.  Will he be the long term replacement if Orakpo leaves, or will he eventually transition to a different role on the front 7?

Will the Redskins use another top draft pick next season if Orakpo leaves?  There's a lot of questions going into this season that Orakpo will need to answer to get the deal he thinks he deserves. The Redskins retained Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett this season, but they fired Linebackers coach Bob Slowik, a long time Mike Shanahan assistant/cronie.  They replaced him with Kirk Olivadotti as ILBs coach.  Olivadotti has coached here before, and Haslett has tried to bring him back to the staff unsuccessfully in the past.  The other replacement is Brian Baker as OLB coach.  Baker previously worked for the Cleveland Browns, and has been doing some crazy drills that actually teach LB techniques and new moves.  Shocking stuff.  The hope in Redskins Nation is that the combination of Haslett's Shanahan-free "Let them loose" philosophy, a switch to a more 1-gap system to get to the QB, the change in LB's coaches, and Orakpo's incentive to earn a big deal will all lead to a career year for the 6th year OLB.  If it doesn't, the Redskins will likely let him test free agency with a "reasonable" deal in his pocket from the team, and he could be wearing different colors next season.