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Five things you need to know about the Orakpo tag

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Five things you need to know about the Orakpo tag

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 4, seven days before the start of NFL free agency.

Nickel coverage

Here are five angles on the Redskins’ decision to put the franchise tag on Brian Orakpo.

1. Why did they do it?—In the end, they didn’t want to lose a home-grown, very good player at a very important position on the defense even if they perhaps would be overpaying him to an extent. They would rather have less cap space to work with than have to start over again when it comes to getting pressure on the opposing QB.

2. What does it do to the cap?—The move leaves them with less than $19 million in cap space, although they do have the ability to create more.

3. What are the ripple effects?—Ryan Kerrigan will be able to stay on the left side of the line, where he is more comfortable. But Rob Jackson, the only remaining member of the Redskins’ draft class of 2008, is unlikely to be back. He will probably head to a team where he will have an opportunity to start or at least have a more defined role.

4. Is there a fight coming?—There have been some reports that Orakpo’s camp will fight to have him designated a defensive end for tag salary purposes rather than a linebacker. That would mean higher pay to the tune of an extra $1.66 million. It seems doubtful that he will be successful but that won’t prevent his camp from trying.

5. What’s next?—Orakpo technically will still be a free agent when that opens up on March 11 and we’ll see if another team is willing to give up two first-round picks for the right to be able to pay Orakpo in excess of $10 million per year. Since that is highly unlikely to happen, Orakpo will have to decide when to sign his tender. When he does that $11.5 million salary becomes guaranteed and he must attend mandatory minicamp and training camp. He could opt not to sign and attempt to create pressure for a long-term deal by holding out.

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Timeline

—It’s been 65 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 187 days until they play another one.

—Days until: NFL Free agency starts 7; Offseason workouts start 34; NFL Draft 65

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Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Many considered the Cardinals a Super Bowl contender this season, though the team has not performed to that level so far in 2016. One huge problem for Arizona - protecting quarterback Carson Palmer. 

In its last four games, Arizona has given up 16 sacks on Palmer, including a staggering eight sacks against the Carolina Panthers. In the last two games, Palmer has gone down six times, and both games have been losses. 

With weapons like wideout Larry Fitzgerald and running back David Johnson, Palmer has lots of options to move the ball. That's why Jay Gruden knows how important it is for his front seven to get home.

"It’s going to start with the pass rush," Gruden said. "If Carson [Palmer] has all day to throw and give Larry time to do double moves and stem you inside and vertical and then get back out or break it back across, I don’t care how big you are or how fast you are, it’s going to be hard."

In all six Cardinals losses, Palmer has been sacked at least two times, and in four of the losses, Palmer has gone down at least four times. Beyond the Panthers' eight sacks, the Bills brought down the Cards QB five times, and both the Seahawks and Vikings got to Palmer four times.

While the sack totals stand out, Washington's Preston Smith knows each week is different in the NFL.

"Every game you’re fired up because you feel like it's an opporttunity to get out there and get sacks," Smith said. "You don’t think about what another team did, they’re going to play us different."

Talking on the latest #RedskinsTalk Podcast, Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy acknowledged that the defense knows how beat up the Cardinals' offensive line is. Murphy, who has seven sacks on the season, added that he's 'drooling' for this matchup and the opportunity to take advantage of the Arizona vulnerabilities up front. (Listen to the full podcast below.)

Bruce Arians knows his team is undermanned on the line, and the Arizona offense will be creative to protect Palmer.

"You have to help them," Arians said of his O-line. "You have got to stay balanced and hopefully not get into a situation where it’s a throw, throw, throw game because then you’re putting them in harm’s way and your quarterback in harm’s way."

It doesn't help that in his 14th season, Palmer is probably one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. After matching up against Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott in their last two games, the Redskins defense knows Palmer won't move nearly as much, though that doesn't mean he's neccesarily easier to get down.

"You’re not going against a mobile quarterback but you still got to get to that spot," Smith said. "Carson’s a good quarterback."

Linebacker Mason Foster said that sacks aren't as important as consistent pressure. 

"On a great quarterback like that you want consistent pressure all day long. Make things tough on him, you don’t want a clean pocket," Foster said. "If you have pressure in his face all day and you don’t get no sacks, I think that's a success."

Even at 36, Palmer is still a dangerous quarterback. He's thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this year with a beat-up offensive line and missing one start. But numbers are numbers, and the data shows that if the 'Skins pass rushers can get Palmer to the ground, the chances of a Washington win shoot right up. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

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Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

As always, hit the poll and then head to the comments section here and talk about your answer, or reply on Twitter.