RICHMOND—The Redskins designated Brian Orakpo as their franchise player just before the NFL deadline to do so last March. He was not happy about getting tagged. The Redskins’ 2009 first-round draft pick said that he thought he had proven himself enough to warrant the long-term deal that every player wants.
"I have to prove myself again, huh?" Orakpo said last April. "I don't have to prove myself to anybody. I'm already proven in this league. I don't have to prove anything to anybody. That goes for fans, that goes for media. Anybody. I'm well-proven in this league. If it doesn't work out, then it doesn't work out, but I don't have to prove anything to anybody."
By that point he had signed the tender and was participating in the team’s offseason program. That guaranteed him a salary of $11.45 million for the season but he nothing beyond 2014.
"Obviously I still want something done, hopefully sooner than later," Orakpo said. "I don't want to be in a situation where this stuff is lingering through the season. My best interests, their best interest is hopefully we get something done. Who knows? It's a business and I have to look out for myself as well."
But the July 15 deadline for negotiating a long-term deal came and went so Orakpo will have to wait until next year to sign new contract. It’s likely that he hasn’t put his contract situation completely out of his mind but according to his head coach he has been a model player.
"He's been to every OTA. He's been to every practice and he's practicing as hard as anybody on this team right now,” said Jay Gruden. “And, I think he's having a good time. From a contract standpoint, I don’t know if he's satisfied, unhappy or whatever it is, but it's not showing with his play on the field and his leadership roles. He's not missed any time in the meeting room, he's out here on time, practicing his butt off and I’ve been very, very impressed with Brian Orakpo so far."
Orakpo has continually declined to comment on his contract situation when asked by the media.
What happens to Orakpo in 2015 will be largely determined by what happens starting Sept. 7 when the Redskins open their regular season in Houston. But a franchise-tagged player can create quite a distraction by making his dissatisfaction known to both his teammates and the media. Orakpo has chosen not to take that path and we will see if it pays off for him.