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Need to Know: What are the Redskins' options with Orakpo in 2015?

Need to Know: What are the Redskins' options with Orakpo in 2015?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 16, eight days before the Redskins start training camp.

Three and out

Yesterday’s 4 p.m. deadline for Brian Orakpo to sign a long-term contract with the Redskins came and went without a deal being done. He’ll play this year on a one-year, $11.45 million contract. Let’s fast forward to 2015 and consider how this might play out.

—A lot of how 2015 plays out will depend on what happens the rest of 2014. If Orakpo is healthy and produces, say, 15 sacks and makes some game-changing plays the Redskins will work on a way to keep him, either with a big money, long-term deal or by using the franchise tag again. If he gets 10 low-impact sacks and doesn’t do much in the turnover department they might be inclined to let him walk unless he signs a very team friendly deal. And by “team friendly” I mean something with a cap number in the $7 million to $8 million range that the team with a fairly low amount of guaranteed money.

—The reason the Redskins will base much of their decision on how Orakpo performs this year is that they are giving him everything he needs to be successful. They spent $10 million in guaranteed month to land Jason Hatcher to give him some help with an inside pass rush. They spent their top draft pick on Trent Murphy, who will line up with Orakpo in certain packages and draw some more attention away from him. The team brought in coach Brian Baker to coach his position and refine his pass rush technique. Jim Haslett has promised his scheme will feature more aggressive rush and less containment responsibilities. If he can’t become a top pass rusher under those circumstances at the age of 28 there isn’t much hope that he ever will.

—As noted, the Redskins will have the option of tagging Orakpo again in 2015. The issue with counting on that strategy is that players generally don’t like getting the tag for a second time. This time around, Orakpo signed the tender before the offseason program started. That let him participate on OTAs and obligated him to come to minicamp and training camp. But things might not go quite so smoothly the next time around. Orakpo’s camp might want to play hardball and take the only course of action they can, withhold the player’s services. We’re a long way from that happening but it’s one more thing that both sides have to consider as this situation plays out.

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Timeline

—It’s been 199 days since the Redskins played a game; in 53 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener vs. Patriots 22; Final cuts 45; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 61

Redskins take wait and see approach with Orakpo.

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Report: Cousins won't sign with Redskins before getting tagged

Report: Cousins won't sign with Redskins before getting tagged

There may not be much drama when the March 1 franchise tag deadline comes around. It appears that a Kirk Cousins tag is inevitable.

According to a Pro Football Talk report, Cousins will not sign a long-term deal prior getting tagged by the Redskins. PFT cited a source with knowledge of the situation.

This is not exactly a surprising report. The situation has seemed to be destined to reach this point since minutes after the Redskins’ final game of the season when Cousins, whose one-year franchise tag deal expired when the game ended, was asked if he wanted to remain in Washington.

 “It’s really not my decision to make,” he said. “They chose to tag me and the same is true this year, so if they don’t choose to tag me then I think that question is answered at that point, but right now the ball’s not in my court.”

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Actually, the ball is in his court; he could instruct his agent to hammer out the best deal he can get to stay in Washington and then sign it. But apparently, he will choose the tag, a solid business decision for a number of reasons.

For one thing, if he gets tagged and quickly signs the tender as he did last year he would guarantee a salary of $23.94 million, a 20 percent raise over the $19.95 million he earned last year. If he plays out the season on the tag he would be virtually guaranteed of never getting tagged again since such a move would give him a 44 percent raise over his previous year’s cap number. The number is designed to make a third tag cost prohibitive and it does.

For the team’s part, there have been scattered reports that some in the Redskins organization pushed for letting Cousins hit the open market and letting his value be determined there. But that changed after Kyle Shanahan, the Redskins’ offensive coordinator for the first two years of Cousins’ career and a big Cousins fan, became the head coach of the 49ers. There is no question that San Francisco would make a strong play for Cousins and the most likely scenario now is that the will tag him.

More Redskins: Under the radar issues

Where does this go after Cousins is tagged? The Redskins would have until July 15 to sign him to a long-term contract. It would still take a strong offer for the team to keep Cousins around for the long term.

Team president Bruce Allen seems to be optimistic about getting a deal done eventully.

"I don’t think it’s as complicated as everyone wants to make it,” he said earlier this month. “And we’ll get together with his agent, and I’m sure we’ll come to an agreement."

That remains to be seen. The only thing that seems certain in this saga is that it won’t be coming to a resolution any time soon.

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.

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Need to Know: Under the radar issues for the Redskins

Need to Know: Under the radar issues for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 21, 16 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 8
—NFL Combine (3/2) 9
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 55
—NFL Draft (4/27) 65
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 201

Under the radar offseason issues for the Redskins

We know the top line personnel issues for the Redskins this offseason—Kirk Cousins, Jackson and Garçon, D-line, etc. Here are some other issues flying below the radar:

Who’s the backup center? Kory Lichtensteiger retired and John Sullivan is a free agent. That leaves Spencer Long as the only true center under contract. Do they try to bring back Sullivan? Look for one in the draft? The free agent pool is very thin but perhaps a solid backup could get cut.

Guard depth Lichtensteiger also provided some insurance at guard to his absence hits creates a double hit on the depth chart. Right now, the only backup to Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff is Arie Kouandjio. Scherff is durable but Lauvao hasn’t played a 16-game season since 2012. Unless they have more faith in Kouandjio than I suspect they do they will need depth. Perhaps they could spend a mid-round pick for depth this year and then let him compete with Kouandjio for the LG starting job assuming Lauvao moves on after his contract is up  

Need depth at cornerback The Redskins’ top two cornerbacks, Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland, aren’t bad. And maybe Kendall Fuller and Quinton Dunbar are good as the No. 3 and No. 4 CB’s although they perhaps should have some stiff competition. But it’s a long season and injuries happen. They have former Seahawk Tharold Simon and Dashaun Phillips on the roster and they may re-sign Greg Toler. They probably need one or two more veterans or draft picks to compete for the last one or two spots.

More Redskins: NFL Mock Draft 3.0

QB of the future? The most likely scenario in the Cousins saga is that he gets tagged on March 1 and if he does sign a long-term deal it will not be until closer to July 15. That would leave the Redskins in a bit of a tight sport, going through free agency and the draft not knowing if their starter at the most important position on the field will be back in 2018. What about Nate Sudfeld? Would he be ready to at least back up, presumably, Colt McCoy or another veteran? If not, do they need to look for one in the middle of draft, or perhaps earlier? If they are concerned about Cousins’ status and Sudfeld’s ability to develop into a starter this needs to be on the front burner.

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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.