The Redskins need to decide if they are going to give any of their 20 pending free agent players the franchise tag and the clock starts ticking today.
All NFL teams have from now until 4 p.m. on March 3, two weeks from today, to designate one free agent to be their franchise player. The only player the Redskins will consider tagging is outside linebacker Brian Orakpo.
If the Redskins do decide to tag Orakpo they will most likely use the non-exclusive tag, which carries a salary of about $10.9 million of linebackers. That tag would allow Orakpo to negotiate with other teams and sign an offer sheet if he strikes a deal with one of them. The Redskins would have seven days to match to offer or accept compensation. The standard compensation is two first-round draft picks but other deals can be negotiated.
Orakpo could negotiate with other teams until he signs the tender. At that point the salary for the season becomes guaranteed. The team can withdraw the tag at any time before the player signs it, making him a free agent.
General manager Bruce Allen has not said anything about the team using the tag on Orakpo one way or the other. However, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett spoke about the role that Orakpo will have in the Redskins defense this year and there was no “if he is back” qualification. That could be taken as a sign that Haslett believes that the team plans to use the tag as that is the only way they can ensure that he returns.
It would be surprising if they moved quickly to tag Orakpo. They have started negotiations with his agent on a long-term contract and there is no reason not to let those talks go on until closer to the deadline.