With the Redskins eligible to begin offseason workouts on April 7, Brian Orakpo signed his franchise tag tender Thursday morning because, as the linebacker said, he didn’t want to become a distraction to his teammates.
“I just hate distractions,” Orakpo told CSNWashington.com moments after putting pen to paper at Redskins Park. “I hate the whole mess that goes with contracts. I just love football, man, and I love my teammates. And I didn’t want to be a distraction. They presented me with the franchise tag and I thought about it heavily with my agents and my representatives, and it was just, ‘Let’s go ahead and do it.’”
By signing the $11.455 million tender, Orakpo can now participate in the team’s offseason program, which could begin nine days from now. The Redskins, and any other team that hired a new head coach after the 2013 season, can begin offseason activities two weeks earlier than teams with returning coaches.
[MORE: Trade offers for Kirk Cousins?]
“I wanted to come in and meet my teammates, meet the new coaching staff and go from there,” Orakpo said. “That was another prime reason I came in and signed it.”
Orakpo said his representatives and the Redskins had discussed a long-term extension but the sides failed to, as he put it, “meet in the middle.”
“It’s something we talked about,” he said. “Obviously, don’t get it twisted—I still want the long term. That’s obviously the goal.”
Jay Gruden said on Wednesday that he had no problem with letting Orakpo play out the tag and then re-evaluating the situation after the season.
“We’d like to get him here for as many years as we can,” Gruden told reporters at the NFL’s annual meeting in Orlando. “Right now I wouldn’t mind letting him play this franchise tag and see what happens.”
And now, that’s probably what will happen, though the sides still have until July 15 to work out a long-term agreement. If they don’t, Orakpo will be the team’s highest paid player in 2014 and will have to deal with the additional scrutiny that comes along with it.
“I’m not a pressure guy,” Orakpo said. “I don’t go into a season, or go into a situation feeling pressure. I’m very loose. I really don’t look at myself [as being] any different than an undrafted rookie. I treat everybody the same. I don’t care how much money people are making. Everyone has to come in here and work.”