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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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Josh Norman backs Kirk Cousins, points to Redskins' defense in argument with Jason Whitlock

Josh Norman backs Kirk Cousins, points to Redskins' defense in argument with Jason Whitlock

As the discussion rages around what the Redskins should do with free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, $75 million cornerback Josh Norman made clear he wants the passer back. Norman explained that the 'Skins struggles should not be pinned to Cousins, but rather, a Washington defense that finished the year near the bottom of the NFL.

"We got to help him out of defense, and stop somebody on the field," Norman said on FS1 (click here for full video). "We did not help him out at all. I'll be honest with you. We got to do our job."

Norman's comments came during a spirited argument with Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock and Cris Carter in what amounted to a festival of hot takery. Whitlock's argument was that Cousins is not a franchise quarterback, and shoult not be paid as such, largely for losing the final two home games of the year against Carolina and the New York Giants.

Cousins passed for nearly 5,000 yards this year, a statitstic Norman pointed to in his defense of the QB. He also explained that Cousins still has room to grow.

"He only had two seasons," Norman said. "Cam Newton had five seasons."

Drafted in 2012, Cousins was just named the 'Skins starter in 2015. He's started every game the last two seasons and gone 17-16 while passing for more than 9,000 yards. Norman played with Newton in Carolina before signing with Washington last year, and got to watch the quarterback develop into the league MVP in 2015.

Norman described Cousins as a 'great guy' and leader in the locker room, but he allowed that, "I know a great guy don’t translate into wins. I'm not saying that."

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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

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The Final Countdown: Redskins 9th worst play of the year goes back to Week 1

The Final Countdown: Redskins 9th worst play of the year goes back to Week 1

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 9 worst play of 2016

Steelers at Redskins Week 1

10:18 left in Q2, Steelers ball 4th and 1 at the Redskins 29, Redskins leading 6-0

Ben Roethlisberger pass deep left to Antonio Brown for 29 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

Tandler: Things were looking up for the Redskins prior to this, even though they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone in two forays deep into Steelers territory and had to settle for field goals (a taste of things to come all year). The Steelers drove down the field and went for it on fourth and one. Because Joe Barry opted not to have Josh Norman travel from side to side with Brown, it was Bashaud Breeland with one-on-one coverage on the right side. Brown beat Breeland and DeAngelo Hall was late giving safety help and Big Ben put the ball on the money. The score put the Steelers ahead to stay.

More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities

Finlay: It's easy to forget now that the Redskins had an early lead in the opener against Pittsburgh. In fact, their defense started well, until this point. In something that would be repeated throughout the year, the Steelers did not hesitate to go for it on 4th down against the Washington defense. Breeland was in pretty good position on the ball, though Roethlisberger's throw was right on the money. It would be only one more week until Josh Norman would then start traveling to cover other team's best receivers. Beyond the immediate impact of this play, it also seemed to stay with Breeland as he struggled somewhat in the first half of the season.

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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