NFL Mock draft 3: Is OL the Redskins biggest need
The Redskins announced that they have exercised their franchise tag on Brian Orakpo prior to Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline, virtually ensuring the star outside linebacker will remain with the team in 2014.
The tag for linebackers is $11.455 million—all fully guaranteed. According to reports the team used the non-exclusive tag on Orakpo, giving him the option of negotiating an offer sheet with other teams. The Redskins could match the offer or let him go with two first-round picks as compensation.
Had the Redskins not tagged Orakpo, it’s possible the 27-year-old would have become a hot commodity when free agency opens March 11. Rotoworld's Evan Silva ranks Orakpo as the fifth most valuable potential free agent.
The Redskins now have until July 15 to work out a long-term extension with Orakpo. If the sides cannot agree, Orakpo will play for the amount of the franchise tag.
After missing almost all of the 2012 season with a torn pectoral muscle, the 27-year-old enjoyed a big bounce back in 2013. Orakpo recorded a career-high 60 tackles, 10 sacks and returned his first career interception for a touchdown.
ProFootballFocus.com rated Orakpo as the fourth best 3-4 outside linebacker last season behind Justin Houston (Chiefs), Robert Mathis (Colts) and Elvis Dumervil (Ravens).
Since being drafted in the first round by the Redskins in 2009, Orakpo has amassed 39.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, defended 16 passes and notched one interception.
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Head coach Jay Gruden recently said he “love to get Brian back” but conceded that the team has many holes that need to be addressed via free agency. That was Gruden’s way of saying they’d welcome Orakpo back ... on terms the team found reasonable.
Orakpo has avoided making public comments on his situation lately but said after the season finale that he had to balance his desire to return to Washington with his financial interests.
“I would love to come back and finish my career as a Redskins because I feel like we have a lot of unfinished business here," Orakpo said at the Meadowlands, where he was sidelined with a groin injury. "But, at the same time, I want to have the best interests for myself when it comes to this point in time in my career.”