What should the Redskins do with Orakpo?
The Redskins have until 4 p.m. today to decide whether or not they want to apply the franchise tag to linebacker Brian Orakpo. If they don’t, they will have to be prepared to lose him after the free agent market opens up a week from tomorrow. And that means that they need to consider who will man the right outside linebacker position in 2014 and beyond if Orakpo signs with another team.
Many have suggested that the team should move Rob Jackson into the spot. After all, the Redskins won the NFC East in 2012 when Jackson started the last 14 games of the season after Orakpo landed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle he suffered in Week 2. Jackson responded by registering 4.5 sacks and picking off four passes. He made perhaps the biggest play of the season when the picked off a Tony Romo pass in the fourth quarter of the Week 17 Cowboys-Redskins game. The Redskins turned that into a game-clinching drive to win the game and the NFC East title.
But if the Redskins want to have Jackson as their Plan B for life after Orakpo they are going about it in a strange way. Jackson will become a free agent on March 11 and according to multiple sources the team has not yet started to talk contract with him. You would think that they at least would have picked up the phone and touched base with Jackson’s agent if there was a chance they wanted him to be return to man one of the key positions on the defense.
Of course, Bruce Allen could always pick up the phone and initiate talks at any time. But they have only until this Saturday to negotiate with him exclusively and after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11 he would be able to sign with anybody. Time is growing short.
It’s likely that Jackson is looking for a chance to start and perhaps the Redskins don’t have him in their plans for that. Jackson is strong in coverage as his four 2012 interceptions show. He got a pick in his first game this season after serving a four-game suspension for violating the leagues PED policy.
But Jim Haslett has made it clear that he wants his defense to be aggressive and disruptive by applying pass pressure. That is not Jackson’s strong suit. His 4.5 sacks in 2012 were somewhat deceiving in that he rarely got to the quarterback on other occasions. He had two hits and 10 hurries that season. In contrast, Ryan Kerrigan rushed from the other side and had nine hits and 50 hurries to go with his eight sacks. Certainly Haslett would like to see an outside linebacker get four or five pressures for every sack.
We will see how this unfolds and it is very premature to say that Jackson’s days with the Redskins are done. But the team appears to be examining all options for replacing Orakpo if necessary and Jackson may not be at the top of their list.