While possibly the best free agent wide receiver prospect plays in the NFC East, the top available linebacker might already be in Washington.
According to an NFL.com Around The League list and a USA Today article, outside linebacker Brian Orakpo is the No. 3 rated free agent in 2014. Bleacher Report rates Orakpo as the seventh-most appealing man on the market, and Rotoworld rates Rak as the top linebacker in this year’s class.
“He can probably thrive in any scheme having also shined as a defensive end in college for Texas. But 3-4 teams will probably value him most,” USA Today wrote.
Orakpo enjoyed a renaissance of sorts after returning from a torn pectoral muscle last season. He recorded his first interception in any level of competition, scored his first touchdown, set a career high with 60 tackles, notched double-digit sacks for the second time and went to his third Pro Bowl.
In a quarterback’s league, pass rushers are at a premium. Orakpo will understandably want to cash in while he can. In the locker room after a Week 17 loss at New York, Orakpo said it was too soon to discuss whether he wanted to return to Washington for certain. He said he’d never been through the free agency process before, an he needed time to sort out his thoughts and emotions so he could do the best thing for his family.
He’s had that time now, so it’s up to the Redskins to decide how hard the team will pursue him. Backup Rob Jackson also a free agent, and Ryan Kerrigan is still under contract. Outside Linebackers Coach Brian Baker has said he’d like a chance to see what Orakpo is all about.
ESPN 980 personality Chris Russell wrote in his blog that the Redskins must retain Orakpo “by any means necesary.“
“Franchise tag him or sign him to a long term deal at a fair number are the only two choices in my eyes,” Russell wrote. “Yes, that means that if you are amongst the group that thinks Orakpo can just be replaced, you are not thinking realistically and more important, you are wrong.”
CSN Washington blogger Rich Tandler told Larry Michael Wednesday on “Redskins Nation” he thinks the team should use the franchise tag on the linebacker.
In simple terms, this means delaying contract negotiations and renting a player with an expensive one-year deal instead of signing him for multiple years.
Many players resent the tag because it’s a temporary fix. They want the guaranteed signing bonus money because if they get hurt during the franchise tag year, their potential long-term value will decrease.
NFL teams can designate franchise players as soon as next Monday, Feb. 17.
Do you think the Redskins should keep Orakpo?-REDSKINS-
ABOUT THE REDSKINS: Headquartered at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia, and owned by Daniel Snyder, the historic Washington Redskins Football Club has won five World Championship titles including the 1937 and 1942 National Football League Championship games, as well as Super Bowls XVII, XXII and XXVI. Founded in 1932 as the Boston Braves in Massachusetts, the team changed its name to the Redskins in 1933 and relocated to Washington, D.C., in 1937. Since then, the team has become one of the most recognizable professional sports franchises in history, featuring multiple Hall of Fame coaches, 19 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (with seven others who also were Redskins) and becoming the first team in the NFL with an official marching band and fight song, "Hail to the Redskins." The Redskins have been owned by Dan Snydersince 1999, and beginning in 1997, began playing their home games at FedExField in Landover, Md.