What effect will Orakpo tag have on Kerrigan's future?

What effect will Orakpo tag have on Kerrigan's future?
March 4, 2014, 3:30 pm

Some are wondering if the decision to place the franchise tag on Brian Orakpo will have on Ryan Kerrigan’s status. The team’s first pick in the 2011 draft plays the same position Orakpo on the opposite side. His four-year contract is up after this season so what will they do with Kerrigan and Orakpo both out of contract, assuming that Orakpo does not sign a long-term deal?

But it won’t be an issue. A stipulation in the CBA that ended the 2011 lockout gives the teams an option year on first-round picks starting with that year’s draft. All the team has to do is declare that it wants to exercise its option by May 3 of this year. Then the player is locked up for the next season for a predetermined salary that is the average of the top 15 players at his position minus the top three.

What this means is that, in essence, Kerrigan is signed through the 2015 season. He will make something in the neighborhood of $4 to $5 million.

It would be very difficult for the team to have both players under contract or one under contract and the other on a transition tag when both players would carry cap numbers near or in excess of $10 million. But that’s not something they have to worry about until 2016.

What the Redskins could decide to do is tag Orakpo again in 2015, a move that would cost a salary of about $13.5 million. That and Kerrigan’s cap number will create a bit of a squeeze but it should be manageable on a cap that is expected to grow to over $140 million.

Then, in 2016 they will be able to decide who should get the big contract. Orakpo will be entering his age 30 season while Kerrigan will be 28 before the season starts. Probably tough to hold on to both of them but if the Redskins personnel people set things up properly there should be a replacement ready for one of them by that time.

If Orakpo does sign a long-term contract either this year or next, all bets are off regarding Kerrigan’s future in Washington after 2015. If he keeps on getting 8.5 sacks per season and makes the occasional pick six and plays almost every down—in other words, if he’s the Kerrigan he’s been since he came into the NFL--