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Change of Thought: Let Orakpo Go

McKissic for the win

Bulldog

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When the offseason began I assumed signing Orakpo was one of the necessary steps to improving in 2014.

Looking at the franchise tag of almost $12M for the season has me now thinking we need to let him go into free agency.

While Brian has put up solid numbers when healthy the fact is I would not count him as one of the five best rushers in the game.

To take up that kind of cap space being bandied about you really have to be talking about an all-pro caliber performer.

Even with a longer term deal his number would be limiting in the team's attempts to improve the roster significantly in other areas.

Again I am not convinced at 27/28 we are looking at a player whose upside is much greater than what we have already seen.

Orakpo's 2014 cap numbers could equate to the salaries of perhaps 3 other younger veteran players that could help the team.

Watching Baltimore and Seattle the past couple of years it seems the age of parity (mediocrity) in the NFL rewards those teams with solid all around rosters and a sprinkling of star performers.

With the cap and injuries investing maximum dollars in any one position seems like a losing gambit.

Qb may be the exception and Seattle was lucky enough to have one playing on his rookie deal.
 

Lanky Livingston

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If they let him go, it's gonna be sad to see Rak leave and put up 15 sacks on a better defense next year, sigh.

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I'm not sure he will though, Lanky. He has a history of missing sacks when he has the opportunity and I am weary of watching that. I also think this defense, under Haslett, played much better the end of 2012 without Rak than it ever has with him. So, I'm not sure I don't agree with BD at this point.

If we can get him for a reasonable price then sure. Keep him. But if we are talking about franchise player money then I would probably let him walk.
 

tshile

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If they let him go, it's gonna be sad to see Rak leave and put up 15 sacks on a better defense next year, sigh.

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Can't have that mentality.

If he leaves and is successful elsewhere then good for him. The question is whether he'll be successful here and whether that success is worth the cost.

He might go somewhere where the system benefits him more. Or where he has better players around him. Or a team that is an offensive juggernaut allowing for more aggressive play by the defenders.

You can't judge him on what he might do elsewhere. It's irrelevant to how he'll do here next year and the cost associated with finding out :)
 

Lanky Livingston

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I'm not sure he will though, Lanky. He has a history of missing sacks when he has the opportunity and I am weary of watching that. I also think this defense, under Haslett, played much better the end of 2012 without Rak than it ever has with him. So, I'm not sure I don't agree with BD at this point.

If we can get him for a reasonable price then sure. Keep him. But if we are talking about franchise player money then I would probably let him walk.
A big reason why he was "missing" sacks though was because QBs could simply step up and easily avoid the rush. We got no pressure from the interior, and I think no real NT is the reason.

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Bulldog

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Orakpo is talking about free agency as if he has been paid a pauper's wages. We paid him to sit in the training room for a year and a half.

No hometown discount?

That's fine, he can go to the Raiders or Browns and continue to finish in last place.

I don't see any contender giving him the size deal he is looking for.

Perhaps if had been healthy all 4 seasons and posted a Mathis-type 19 sack season along the way.

Shaun Phillips and Michael Bennett put up double digit sack numbers on one year deals in 2013.
 

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A big reason why he was "missing" sacks though was because QBs could simply step up and easily avoid the rush. We got no pressure from the interior, and I think no real NT is the reason.

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I'm not talking about those, Lanky. That happens to every edge rusher. I am talking getting beat by Romo in the open field after getting hands on the guy. I'm sorry but too many times Rak fails to finish. Like a WR and a pass if a pass rusher gets two hands on a QB it should be over and all two often with Rak it is not.
 

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Instead of losing him for zero compensation, we should franchise Rak and work out a sign and trade with another team. SF would probably bite and offer one of their second rounders. We would be off the hook after the tag is lifted and garner a second. No need to let him go and have nothing to show for it.
 

tshile

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On that note Mike, for what it's worth, he has a great reputation as a locker room guy and leader. While that may seem silly and simple I don't think that's something you should casually toss away.

It's definitely weird situation. I don't think there's a clear answer. I mean, I know how I feel, but that's easy to do on a message boar vs being a GM with actual responsibilities.
 

McD5

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Who would you suggest to replace him?

And seeing as how he's the top FA at his position, are you willing to use a high draft pick to replace him over other areas of need?

We are already likely to use a pick on a MLB, are you okay with using two higher picks at LB?
 

Ax

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For years, we've had a reputation of paying other teams players, and not our own. We need to stop that.

Obviously, if he demands some astronomically high price, he's not gonna get it. In that case, I like BB's idea to tag & trade, if possible.

But I wouldn't mind giving him a good contract, filled with performance bonuses. I'd tell him, if you perform like the top players at your position, you'll get the bonuses to show for it. But we can't afford a huge contract with the recent history of injury. Pro Bowls don't count. Sacks, drawn holding penalties, tackles, tackles for a loss, batted balls, and interceptions do.
 

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Here's the thing....I forced myself to watch those last three games just cause I'm a diehard Redskin fan and couldn't live with myself if I hadn't. I also justified it by telling myself that I'd gleam a little more insight on the team and be able to have sensible off-season conversations. Of ALLLLLLLLLL the things I noticed during those last few games, what I saw most was Orakpo left, Orakpo right and Orakpo middle. The guy was a beast. He was everywhere. More so than I'd ever seen him before. Seriously. Might have been his play for a big payday this season.....but then, maybe it worked. I've gotta believe that most knowledgable GM's in the league saw his play on the field and will make their decisions based on it. There's a reason everyone's calling him the best FA at the position this year. We may be sour on him because he's hometown and has had an injury prone and inconsistent career, but don't be silly, the rest of the league will see what he did and will go after him.

We need to pick our battles.....and this is for sure not one of the ones we should be fighting.

Keep him.
 

Lanky Livingston

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LSF, you're dead on. Rak was our best player on defense last year for sure.

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Miles Monroe

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Who would you suggest to replace him?

And seeing as how he's the top FA at his position, are you willing to use a high draft pick to replace him over other areas of need?

We are already likely to use a pick on a MLB, are you okay with using two higher picks at LB?
If we use a pic for a middle linebacker, it will be a late rounder for a developmental player / depth.

Availability is everything, and that's the biggest issue with Rak as I see it. Can't count on him for 16 games. Like I said some time back, and echoing what others have said, I'd keep him for a fair contract heavy with incentives. He's just not worth the all pro contract he's likely looking for.
 

Goaldeje

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I think we keep him. And I'm willing to pay more than what the market bears for him, frankly. As LSF noted, he was a beast last year and pretty clearly was our best defensive player. To lose him for nothing would be a HUGE setback.

Agree with Ax, if his asking price is ridiculous (Haynesworth-ian), tag him and trade him. If not, get it done.
 

tshile

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I don't think you're going to get him for a good/decent contract with incentives and performance bonuses.

I think he's going to get a big contract. As in almost top dollar. It's what he's going to ask for, and I believe someone other than us is going to be willing to pay it and it'll be a question of do we want to outbid that team.

I think most people would love to have Orakpo back when considering how many people we know we have to replace. But he's going to be exxxxxxxxxxxxpensive.
 

tshile

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Here's a write up on it by Chris Russell
What to do with Orakpo?
What should the Redskins do with Brian Orakpo? First, they must retain him and I feel by any means necessary.

Franchise tag him or sign him to a long term deal at a fair number are the only two choices in my eyes. 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.

This defense needs to add talent, not subtract and then try to replace it. Orakpo is not Aldon Smith or Von Miller. He's also not an idiot like those guys are. Both of them. Two knuckleheads that I would never want on my team.

Orakpo is a guy I want on my team. No questions asked. He should be the Redskins # 1 priority, as my pal Rick Snider wrote about this earlier this week.

Orakpo is a core Redskin. The Redskins need players have worked hard to get better. Many believe he's not an elite pass rusher. I know he feels like he is, and Jim Haslett feels he is, but the raw numbers would suggest a debate can be made on both sides.

Orakpo is now a three time Pro Bowler after his addition to the 2014 game. He posted double digit sacks in 2013 for the first time since 2009.

Orakpo started off somewhat slow and tentative as he was trying to make his way back from missing nearly the entire 2012 season. He posted a sack in a dreadful loss at Lambeau Field when the Redskins were attacking Aaron Rodgers before the Packer great got comfortable himself. That sack put Orakpo over 30 in his career and was his first since what happened in St. Louis in week 2 of 2012.

In Orakpo's best individual game of the season, he abused an awful, backup left tackle in Oakland for two sacks and also had a monster run stop on 3rd-and-1 that forced a long field goal miss by Sebastian Janikowski and which turned into points for the Redskins and their first win of the season.

Who knew they would only have two more?

In the Redskins 2nd win of the season, Orakpo would have his first interception in the NFL and his first career touchdown as Reed Doughty combined with Orakpo to pop a ball up in to the air, and Orakpo had what he called his first interception at any level. Hard to fathom, but he insisted on it.

Orakpo did not dominate another backup left tackle in Chris Clark of the Broncos like the Redskins really needed but he did have a 2nd career fumble recovery in a valiant effort for the defense in Denver.

He really cranked up the pass rush numbers and very much improved run defense down the stretch with a sack in Philadelphia and against San Francisco. Six days later, in the midst of a lost season - Orakpo had two sacks against the Giants for his eighth multi-sack game.

During this stretch, Orakpo had a sack in four straight games for the first time in his five year career, a period that ended with 5.5 sacks in that four game span.

Orakpo got into double digits in Atlanta with 1.5 sacks against a backup left tackle yet again but it still should be noted that not everybody gets to double digits. Very few do. Orakpo also had a 2nd career fumble recovery in the Atlanta loss.

So what do you do with him? How do you retain Orakpo while protecting yourself at the same time.

"If I could get him to agree to take a home-team discount which I don't think he will, in the Paul Kruger range (8 MM per year),I would sign that," said Joel Corry on ESPN 980 Wednesday night. Corry, a former sports agent and NFL salary cap analyst for CBSSports.com and the National Football Post realizes the chances are slim and none on that front. "Knowing that's not going to happen realistically, the franchise tag becomes a real option."

For a change the Redskins have money to spend under the cap. While figures vary and are dependent on what they do with certain situations (Adam Carriker, Chris Chester?) "the Redskins are going to have roughly 25-26 million worth of cap room," says Corry. That allows them to tag Orakpo (at just under 11 million) and "then you make the decision next year."

Tagging Orakpo with the designation might frustrate Orakpo and his agents at CAA, but it is the most realistic option. It does not prevent a long term deal as Corry explained that both sides could still arrive at one by the cut-off date of July 15th.

Corry explained that Orakpo would still have some leverage in this particular scenario by not reporting to training camp in Richmond (unlikely) and not signing the franchise tender offer. In such a scenario, Orakpo could negotiate a clause that would prevent a franchise or transition tag designation for 2015 or Corry said Orakpo could actually ask for more money than the franchise tag would dictate.

Corry said the reason for this would be that a "2nd franchise tag (2015) is 120 % of the previous year's salary." In other words, Orakpo would get more money this year (2014) while making it extremely difficult for the Redskins to use the franchise tag again.


The problem for Washington is that a franchise tag this year would count for more than one-third of their approximate salary cap room.


If the Redskins were to seriously entertain a long term contract with Orakpo, the average annual value of the contract could be north of 11 million, but "it's really what he's going to make in the first three years," according to Corry.

Clay Matthews signed a monster deal with the Packers while Paul Kruger is on that more modest contract Corry mentioned as we look at the high-end and lower level multi-year contracts for edge pass rushers that have been signed recently.

As I wrote in May, Orakpo has a fair argument for where he stands and even more so after a healthy 2013.

Corry points out something to keep in mind that "Greg Hardy (Carolina DE) who will be the best pass rusher on the market," will probably not get out of Carolina. However, Michael Johnson of Cincinnati could certainly be set free by the Bengals (Minnesota anyone?) and whether he is or he isn't, take a guess who the next best pass rusher is?? "It's Brian Orakpo," says Corry and the numbers from ProFootballFocus.com would certainly back that up.

Ultimately, Orakpo is going to want money too rich for the Redskins blood and as I've said all along, that's why the NFL created the current system.

"Franchising him may become the actual thing that happens if the Redskins think his demands are excessive," says Corry. They will be, in any reasonable opinion.

The Redskins also have to balance whatever they do with Orakpo with the assumed need that they will try very hard to bring back DeAngelo Hall, Perry Riley and Chris Baker.

The problem is, combined with a franchise tag for Orakpo (my expectation) and three new contracts for those players, it might leave the Redskins with five million dollars or less of salary cap room to actually add talent.


Hall played for virtual peanuts last year, and will be looking for a deal that will bring better value. Corry explained "the big problem is he's at 30 so that's the wrong age. He made 2 million if you include his incentives. Maybe a 2-3 year deal, you give him some salary escalators and incentives. Maybe 9-10 million over three years if he maxes out everything, but you don't break the bank for him."

That's not even getting to Riley who may want something similar to what Dannell Ellerbe received from the Dolphins. Baker should be a hot commodity, after drawing interest from the Seahawks as a restricted free agent last year. His strong play down the stretch as a versatile defensive lineman who can play nose and end, along with the ability to play a defensive tackle position in a 4-3 should lead to a nice payday.

Tough decisions ahead for Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden and the Redskins
 

tshile

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Also, Russell pointed out on the radio that Orakpo didn't rush the quarterback like many outside 3-4 line backers that are supposed to be pass rushers.

Last year his attempts were somewhere in the upper 300's (i forget the exact number)

Comparisons to people like him around league were in the mid 500's for attempts.

These numbers come from pro football focus.

Of course, the counter argument might be that if you're a dominate pass rusher and putting up numbers your coaches are going to send you after the QB a whole hell of a lot. If you're not producing.... you may stop getting called on so much.
 

Bulldog

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What Russell seems to ignore is this team after 3-13 is in rebuilding mode. Improvement for this organization is going to come from an infusion of younger, cheaper talent and well-placed mid-range free agent acquisitions that add depth.

Orakpo for one season in 2014 at the franchise tag gets the organization what exactly? So, he moves on in free agency in 2015?

The Redskins are not close to being a legitimate contender, which would be the only reason to franchise Orakpo and bring him back for a single season, absorbing one-third of the team's available cap room.

It's not value for money. And that's what wins, in business, and in sports.

Orakpo at $11M means two or three fewer other acquisitions at positions of need.

Rather than looking at Orakpo as a must-have player, you see you coaches and organizations like the Patriots, Steelers, 49ers, Ravens and others that contend shed players when their contract demands outsize their contributions.

The 49ers let Golston hit free agency and Tampa Bay gave him a big contract. Meanwhile, SF was back in the NFC title game with another player at safety and the Bucs still were a losing team.

The Steelers let Mike Wallace go and look at what he did in Miami (or didn't do).

Some team in 2014 is going to offer Julian Edelman a bigger contract than NE will based upon what he did with Brady in 2013 and that team in all likelihood will be disappointed because he is not a premier performer.

Good organizations replace talent and move on.

For Chris Russell, I would ask why would the Redskins not be able to go into the draft and think they could find an outside linebacker to fit the 3-4 scheme?

Russell seems to believe #98 and #23 are irreplaceable to this defense.

I don't believe it in either case.
 

Elephant

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We are staying in the 3-4...let him go. We are rebuilding, let's rebuild and not pay square pegs to fit into round holes.
 

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