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20 questions in 20 days: 13 Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?

20 questions in 20 days: 13 Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?

By Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir
CSNwashington.comAs we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.Question 13:Can Brian Orakpo post 15 sacks?The background:In 2009, linebacker Brian Orakpo had one of the best rookie seasons in Redskins history as he posted 11 sacks and was selected to the Pro Bowl. While he has played very well since then he has yet to become the dominant pass rusher that many believed he can become. Orakpo has 8.5 and 9 sacks in his last two seasons, respectable totals but not elite. He enters a pivotal season where he can either climb up into that top level of pass rushers or continue to be above average.Tandler:This is partially up to Orakpo and partially up to the guys on the other side of the ball. For his part, Orakpo needs to deal with being doubled and to develop some new moves in his repertoire. But what will help him the most is playing with a lead. The Redskins have ranked 25thand 26thin the NFL in scoring the last two years. If Robert Griffin III, Pierre Garon and company can put the ball in the end zone a few more time a game that will force the other team to pass more. When a defense knows whats coming and doesnt have to worry about defending the run, pass rushing gets a whole lot easier. Griffin and the offense should be able to hold up their end of the bargain and with more opportunities to focus on rushing the passer Orakpo will see his sack total climbEl-Bashir:Orakpo focused on refining his pass-rushing technique and footwork, as well as studying the NFLs great defensive ends on film this offseason. That should help the 26-year-old two-time Pro Bowler, whose nine sacks were tied for 21st last season. Thats not a significant drop off from the 11 he posted in 2009, but those numbers ought to be trending in the other direction at this point in Orakpos career. Although its probably unreasonable to expect him to amass 22 sacks, like Minnesotas Jared Allen, or 18.5, like Dallas DeMarcus Ware, its not too much to expect Orakpo to crack the top-10, which would require at least 12 sacks. Whether he gets there, though, could hinge on how his surgically-repaired pectoral muscle holds up. Its already cut short his preseason. Will it affect him when the games count?20 questions in 20 days20 Aug.20Will Jammal Brown play this year?
19 Aug.21Will Chris Cooley make the team?
18 Aug. 22Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
17 Aug. 23Is Garon a No. 1 receiver?
16 Aug. 24Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
15 Aug. 25Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
14 YesterdayCan Santana Moss regain his old form?
13 TodayCan Orakpo post 15 sacks?
12 TomorrowWill Leonard Hankerson break out?
11 WednesdayCan the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
10 ThursdayHow much can Hightower contribute this year?

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Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

For the second straight season the Redskins placed the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins. While the two sides are speaking amicably about a long-term deal, the July 15 deadline for those negotiations continues to inch closer without much expectation that contract will get signed. 

A second year on the tag is unprecedented for a quarterback. In 2016, Cousins made nearly $20 million playing on the tag. In 2017, that figure goes up to $24.

If the Redskins don't get a deal done with Cousins, many think the organization would not again go with the franchise tag because the price tag jumps to an exorbitant $34 million. 

Think again. 

Asked on Monday if another franchise tag would be an option for Cousins in 2018, Redskins team president Bruce Allen was clear.

"Yes," he said. "In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract."

Those options include the exclusive franchise tag, the non-exclusive franchise tag and the transition tag. Both franchise tags carry the same cost, but the non-exclusive allows Cousins' representatives to shop his services around the NFL. If a deal gets struck, and the Redskins don't match the contract, Washington is due two first-round draft picks as compensation for losing their franchise player. 

The transition tag carries a $28 million price tag, and the Redskins can match another contract but risk only receiving a possible 2019 third-round compensatory pick if Cousins walks.

Considering those options, another year on the non-exclusive tag might make sense. The NFL salary cap will be at least $168 million, which means Cousins at $34 million would account for about 20 percent of the Redskins' salary cap.

That's a crazy allotment for one player. Crazy. The Redskins do have about $54 million in cap space for 2018, so technically, another franchise tag could work. 

But the entire manner of the contract dealings with Cousins and the Redskins has been quite unconventional. The Redskins have already made history by franchising Cousins a second-straight year. 

"I think even Kirk said it, there’s a lot of players round the league who are on a one-year deal. It’s the nature of it, we’d like to get him a long-term deal and I think he should want to get one," Allen said. "Kirk’s played well on a one-year contract the last two seasons."

At this point, it doesn't require a degree in advanced mathematics to understand that the Redskins and Cousins have a different picture of the quarterback's long-term value. That could change by July 15th, it could, but it doesn't seem likely. The Cousins camp has little incentive to bend, as $24 million fully guaranteed for 2017 represents a great payday.

And maybe the Redskins don't plan on bending because the option of a third-straight franchise tag doesn't worry them. Or at least the option of letting Cousins shop his services on a non-exclusive tag, and then making a decision to match a deal or receive compensation seems a worthwhile endevaor. 

For Cousins, he's not counting out any possibility. 

"People, I’ve heard say, ‘There’s no chance they franchise tag him or even transition tag him the following season,’ and I chuckle because if the team has franchise tagged me for two years in a row," Cousins said to an ESPN podcast in March. 

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Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

The Redskins’ offseason starts to move into high gear today as organized team activities, better known as OTAs, get underway at Redskins Park.

Players have been participating in workouts at Redskins Park since April 17. The first phase of those session consisted of strength and conditioning. In the second phase, they were permitted to run plays but not with the offense lined up against the defense. Finally, in OTAs, they will go offense vs. defense.

RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

The practices, however, will not resemble an August scrimmage in Richmond. The players wear helmets but no pads and contact is not permitted. While players do block other players and there are collisions between players going after passes, the action is more like pushing and shoving that it is hitting.  

The part about no contact should be taken seriously. Seattle ran afoul of the no-contact rule last year and it cost them. The Seahawks were fined $400,000, lost their fifth-round pick in this year’s draft and they will not be permitted to hold their first week of OTAs this year. The Redskins will be very careful to keep within the rules.

MORE REDSKINS: Allen says new stadium ahead of schedule 

OTAs will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in each of the next three weeks. The sessions will be open to the media on Wednesday of each week. While player attendance is strongly encouraged the practices are voluntary.

The week after OTAs end the team will hold its minicamp on June 13-14. Minicamp is essentially a continuation of OTAs but player attendance is mandatory.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.