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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 interview another former Chargers defensive coordinator

Redskins interview another former Chargers defensive coordinator

The Redskins continue to cast a wide net in their search for a new defensive coordinator. On Thursday, they interviewed John Pagano, who was recently let go as the defensive coordinator of the Chargers.

Pagano, the brother of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, has been coaching with the Chargers since 2002. That year he started as a quality control coach and then he was the linebackers coach from 2005-2011. The Chargers fired defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, a current Redskins coach and another candidate to run the defense in Washington, after the 2011 season and Pagano was promoted into that job.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

In Pagano’s five seasons with the Chargers, the performance of the defense was respectable. In terms of total yards, San Diego was in the top 10 twice and only once were they ranked worse than 20th.

The Redskins fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry on January 5. The list of candidates they have interviewed includes Mike Pettine, Gus Bradley, Rob Ryan, Manusky, and Jason Tarver. They are expected to interview former Jets and Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman on Friday.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

None of the candidates they have interviewed have accepted positions with other teams so they are all still in play. There is no timetable for the team to make a decision, although the sense is that the process is coming to a close and will be concluded in the near future.

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

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Need to Know: How long is too long in the Redskins' defensive coordinator search?

Need to Know: How long is too long in the Redskins' defensive coordinator search?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 20, 97 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 40
NFL free agency starts 48
First Sunday of 2017 season 233

Will Pleasant push the defensive coordinator search to a conclusion?

Is the Redskins’ search for a defensive coordinator taking too long? Joe Barry was fired two weeks ago yesterday. The Redskins have made it clear that they want to be very thorough in their search. But taking time creates problems and one just popped up. Assistant defensive back coach Aubrey Pleasant apparently has the option to follow Sean McVay to Los Angeles. But the Redskins want to hold on to him.

The problem is that they don’t want to sign Pleasant to be, say, the cornerbacks coach and tie the hands of the incoming defensive coordinator. They already would like the new guy to keep OLB coach Greg Manusky and ILB coach Kirk Olivadotti. Locking in a third position coach might made it very hard to persuade a quality coordinator to come on board.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

However, they can’t hold Pleasant, who is a young, energetic coach who relates well to the players, back indefinitely. Presumably McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips have a bigger role in mind for him and they won’t wait forever for him to get things resolved in Washington.

But it’s not like the Pleasant situation will need to be resolved by the close of business today. We’re talking days, not hours. How many days? They could lose him due because of the Redskins’ deliberate process if it stretches into sometime early next week. I think the chances are strong that there will be a decision on the new defensive coordinator by, say, the close of business on Tuesday.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

I’ll wrap this up with a quick round of laying out the $100 in casino chips on the various defensive coordinator candidates. Things have changed since I did it on Monday. I’ll still make Greg Manusky the favorite but I’ll drop him down five bucks to $35. I’m downgrading Mike Pettine down to a $10 wager; I’ve heard that the organization was not impressed with his interview. I’m more than doubling the wager on Gus Bradley to $25. It’s been a few days since reports that the Chargers were pressing him for a decision and yet he remains in play. I’m going with $10 on Dennis Thurmon, who is from the school of the aggressive style of play that Jay Gruden is looking for. Rob Ryan gets not a cent and the remaining $20, including John Pagao, who interviewed yesterday, goes on the field.

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