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Orakpo wants to stay but can the Redskins keep him?

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Orakpo wants to stay but can the Redskins keep him?

Brian Orakpo is saying all the right things. The Redskins’ linebacker will be a free agent next spring and he says that he wants to come back to the team that drafted him in the first round in 2009.

“Right now this is home,” Orakpo said. “So I would love to continue to finish my career as a Redskin.”

He said that although the team struggled this year, Orakpo is optimistic about the future.

“If we get our core guys back, add a few people here and there with all the money that we’re receiving back from all the salary-cap issues that we had, I think we’ll be up for running at another title shot again the following year,” he said.

Orakpo is certainly one of those “core guys” and there is every indication that the organization would like to have him back. However, there a matter of agreeing on a contract and that’s where things could get sticky.

Last week Orakpo told ESPN that he thought he was one of the “elite” pass rushers in the league. He is on pace to get double-digit sacks this year for the second time in his career—he has 8.5 with four games to go—but the elite players are generally more productive than that. DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys, for example, has had double digit sacks each season from 2006-2012. Included in that string are a 20-sack year and a 19.5 sack year. That’s elite.

If the Redskins agree that Orakpo is a very good player but now up to the elite level there could be some substantial disagreement over his value. If Orakpo and his agent believe he deserves elite money, something in the neighborhood of the five-year, $65 million extension that the Packers’ Clay Matthews signed last spring. The Redskins might have in mind a number that is lower, perhaps considerably lower.

Given his desire to stay here Orakpo could give the Redskins a hometown discount. However, it’s hard to see him signing for much less than market value. He is in the prime of his career and this likely will be his one chance to get a big-money contract. As much as he would like to say, it would be foolish of him to leave millions of dollars on the table to take a deal with the Redskins.

If they can't come to an agreement the Redskins could use the franchise tag on Orakpo. In 2013 that meant a salary of $10.638 million and it is likely to stay in that neighborhood next year. But all of a franchise player's salary is immediately charged against the salary cap for that year and that would crimp the Redskins' plans to upgrade the roster.

With the expiration of the $36 million salary cap penalty the league imposed, Washington will have more cap space to work with than it has had lately, some $20-$30 million. But they also have a myriad of needs and it would be unwise to tie up too much space in one player.

The Redskins are usually able to keep the players they want to keep and given Orakpo’s desire to stay the chances are they will be able to work out a deal that both sides can live with. But it’s far from a sure thing.

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

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.