Now that the Redskins have tagged Brian Orakpo, the two sides can continue to negotiate a long-term contract. However, the very act of tagging the player and agreeing to pay him a guaranteed $11.45 million for the season may have thrown a significant monkey wrench into the negotiations.
The issue is that by essentially giving Orakpo a one-year contract the team has established his value at a minimum of $11.45 million per year. That makes him the third highest paid outside linebacker this year and a long-term deal averaging $11.45 million would make him the fourth highest-paid at his position.
And the expectations of the Orakpo camp could be higher than that. If they don’t agree to a long-term contract this year, the Redskins could tag him again next year. That would entitle Orakpo to 120 percent of what he made this year, or about $13.7 million guaranteed. That would bump his average annual salary up to just over $12.5 million per year for the two years. That would put him behind only Clay Matthews in terms of per year compensation.
Although the Redskins speak very highly of Orakpo and say that he’s a very valuable member of the team, they probably don’t think he’s worth more than Tamba Hali, Robert Mathis, Ahmad Brooks, Terrell Suggs, and others. Even with the cap at a record high $133 million this year and set to rise substantially for at least the next two years, the Redskins may not want to pay Orakpo that much more than his track record would warrant.
The establishment of a floor for negotiations may have been one reason why the Redskins waited until the last minute to apply the tag or even to let word leak that they were prepared to use it. As soon as they used the tag, they lost leverage.
We will see how this turns out. Both sides have some degree of leverage, which could mean it ends with a stalemate with Orakpo playing out the season on the tag salary.