Brian Orakpo Franchise Tagged by Redskins: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIMarch 3, 2014

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Updates from Monday, April 28

Zac Boyer of the Washington Times provides a statement from Brian Orakpo discussing his status within the NFL:

Updates from Wednesday, April 16

Brian Orakpo spoke about the possibility of a long-term deal with the Redskins (via Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Washington):

Updates from Thursday, March 27

The Redskins posted an image on Twitter of Brian Orakpo signing his tender:

Rich Tandler of provided financial details:

Tarik El-Bashir of followed with a statement from Orakpo discussing his decision to sign the tender:

Original Text

The Washington Redskins and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo couldn't agree to terms on a new long-term contract, but the organization avoided the potential mistake of letting the 27-year-old veteran hit the open market as a free agent.    

Orakpo received the franchise tag designation Monday, the Redskins revealed via their Twitter account:

Although it's only a short-term commitment, it at least buys Washington time to strike a long-term deal with Orakpo while seeing if he is capable of sustaining the high level of play he showed last year coming off a major injury. There is at least some schism going on with regard to how Orakpo is perceived internally.

In a report by The Washington Post's Mike Jones and Mark Maske on Saturday, sources said the organization wasn't unanimously behind Orakpo before the decision was made to bring him back:

According to several people familiar with the situation, the Redskins like Orakpo as a player and ideally would prefer to keep him. But there have been differing views within the organization, according to those sources, about the wisdom of either using the franchise player tag or pursing an expensive long-term contract with Orakpo when that money and salary cap space instead could be used to address other needs. “I think there’s a lot of back and forth on it,” said one person with knowledge of the team’s deliberations. “I don’t think it’s clear cut.”

Jones and Maske point out how the Redskins had until Monday's ultimatum to decide whether to tag Orakpo, who's slated to make $11.455 million this season with the designation.

Maske is reporting that Orakpo was given the non-exclusive tag by the Redskins:

Jones also spoke about how Orakpo will push to be tagged as a defensive end:

While Orakpo pushes to be tagged as a defensive end, Ian Rapoport of is reporting that he won't rush to sign the agreement:

Orakpo later commented on the move (via Josina Anderson of ESPN):

"I'm excited to continue to play football. I'm glad we've made the first step, but hopefully we can still get things done in the long run.

I don't have a problem with the decision (the Washington Redskins) made, but I still want a long-term deal. This is new to me. I'm just letting this play out to the end. I'm excited to be with the Redskins as of right now, but now we will go from here. It's always good to try and finish up with the team that drafted you. However, it is a business and I understand the business. If it works out then it works out. At the very least I'm happy they took this step forward."

On whether he should be tagged as a LB or DE?

"I can't really comment on that right now."

Doubts clearly seem to linger about Orakpo after the extensive deliberation, since the Redskins didn't come to an agreement on a multiyear deal. All parties involved should be pleased, however, because Orakpo still gets a hefty payday, and Washington will either keep him or receive two first-round picks if it doesn't match another team's offer for him. 

Redskins analyst Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan in D.C. suggested franchise tagging Orakpo was the right move before the deal went down. Paulsen implied that letting Orakpo go would be a mistake and that he deserves the big contract if he plays well enough in 2014:

New head coach Jay Gruden's expertise is on offense, so losing such a big contributor to the other side of the ball would be a big blow to the beginning of his tenure.'s Jason La Canfora was convinced Orakpo would hit free agency on March 11, which makes the tag all the more critical—even if it wasn't fulfilling Orakpo's wishes:

A torn pectoral muscle suffered in his third game of 2012 held Orakpo out for the rest of that year when the Redskins won the NFC East title. Aided by a time-of-possession-dominant rushing attack and the energy new quarterback Robert Griffin III brought to the team, Washington's defense thrived even in Orakpo's absence.

But when Griffin went down in the playoffs and came back perhaps too early from rehabbing his knee for the beginning of 2013, all momentum vanished, and the defense looked lost for much of the recent 3-13 2013 campaign, with Orakpo as one of the few bright spots.

What makes Orakpo so valuable isn't just limited to his pass-rushing ability. He sports the athleticism to drop into coverage, has the instincts to diagnose plays and stops the run well enough to be on the field for all downs. That's a big reason why he was named to his third Pro Bowl this past season, racking up a career-best 60 combined tackles while registering 10 sacks and his first career interception.

Thus, it's hard to blame Washington for making Orakpo such a big priority this offseason. He's one of the few draft products in recent memory that has actually worked out for the team, and he's been portrayed as an emotional leader and a key cog in the defense.

Orakpo has been a rock amid a period of perpetual instability with the Redskins, who have changed head coaches eight times since owner Daniel Snyder took over the franchise in 1999. Poor drafting, terrible trades and overspending in free agency have all contributed at one time or another to the bad on-field product.

With the help of Griffin, hope had been somewhat restored until last year's disaster that led to Mike Shanahan getting fired. What's promising is that Orakpo tuned out distractions and remained focused in a contract year. Even though he wasn't rewarded for it quite like he'd like to have been, he still gets a new lease on his time in Washington and should prove himself with another stellar campaign in 2014.