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Why the Redskins will have Orakpo play on the tag this year

Why the Redskins will have Orakpo play on the tag this year

Brian Orakpo signed his franchise tender this morning. He has until July 15 to work out a long-term contract with the Redskins. If he doesn’t, he will have to play the year making $11.45 million (every dime of it is now guaranteed) and become a free agent again in 2015.

It seems that the latter scenario is much more likely than a long-term deal. Jay Gruden said as much on Wednesday.

“We’d like to get him here for as many years as we can, but right now I wouldn’t mind letting him play out this franchise tag and see what happens,” Gruden said at the NFL owners meeting in Orlando. He’s a talented player. I think he can do a little bit better.”

So Gruden wants to see more out of Orakpo before giving him the big deal that every player wants. That’s a football reason to wait on locking up the team’s first-round pick in the 2009 draft. There are other reasons:

—Orakpo will be 28 shortly after the start of training camp. He is in excellent shape but, as we all know, Father Time is undefeated. Usually the bigger salaries in a five-year contract come in the later years, just when Orakpo turns 30. Although he could well still be productive, the Redskins would likely be paying him escalating salaries in a time when his skills are beginning to decline.

—Signing Orakpo for five years would almost certainly mean the end of Ryan Kerrigan as a Redskin after the 2015 season. This is the last year of his rookie deal and then the team will almost certainly exercise a one-year option that will keep him around through 2015 for a salary of about $5 million. Then he will be a free agent in 2016. You don’t have to be a master capologist to figure out that you can’t have two premium contracts at the same position without running into serious cap trouble. Kerrigan generally doesn’t post as many sacks as Orakpo but he has more big plays like touchdowns and forced on his resume. The team doesn’t want to be in the position of being forced to let Kerrigan, who will be entering his age 28 season in 2016, walk because are obligated to pay Orakpo who, as noted, will be turning 30.

—There is no indication that Orakpo's camp and the Redskins are anywhere close on money. There were reports that the two sides were not close when the tag was applied on March 10 and nothing has happened in the interim that would change that enough to let them "meet in the middle", as Orakpo said.

—They will have the option of tagging him again next year. If Orakpo rushes the passer more often, as both Gruden and Jim Haslett have promised he will, and gets, say, 15 sacks, his market value will skyrocket. But the Redskins know exactly what it will cost them to keep him in Washington for another year. It would be 120 percent of what he is making this year or about $13.75 million. That’s a fairly hefty salary cap hit but the cap is likely to increase by about $8-$10 million next year so it can be absorbed.

It’s easy to say, “pay the man” and you can argue that Orakpo “deserves” to get a long-term deal. But the way the NFL salary cap works, paying one man often means that you can’t pay another man. There are choices to be made and the Redskins may well choose to keep Orakpo around for only one or two more years.

 

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Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Losers of two straight games and for the first time in a month outside of the playoff picture, a desperate Redskins squad travels to Philadelphia for a 1 p.m. game on Sunday. All the action kicks off on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at noon, but to get ready for the action, here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Getting back to good, or at least decent - Two weeks ago the Redskins seemed like a dangerous playoff squad with a strong offense and an improving defense. After two straight losses where Joe Barry's defense has given up 62 total points, the questions are mounting for Washington. Can the defense get stops on 3rd down? Generate a turnover? The good news for the Redskins is that the Eagles are struggggggling. Their offense has not score more than 15 points in three straight weeks. 
  2. Feed the fat one - After giving Rob Kelley just 28 carries in the last two games, Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay owned up to the Redskins lack of run game, "I definitely feel like I could’ve been more patient on some of those early down and distances where you get a little bit pass-heavy. And that’s something that as a decision-maker and as a coordinator, I have to do a better job." In a Week 6 win Kelley and Matt Jones piled up more than 200 rush yards against the Eagles. The 'Skins offense likely won't feature Jones, but expect McVay to feed Fat Rob plenty on Sunday.
  3. Playing in pain - The Redskins offense features a number of dynamic playmaking threats, but arguably the best is tight end Jordan Reed. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Reed separated his left shoulder, and though he finished that game he was forced out of action in Arizona. Expect Reed to be back Sunday, and expect Kirk Cousins to look for him early and often. On the season, Reed has more than 600 receiving yards and five TDs.
  4. If it ain't broke - Kirk Cousins has had more success against the Eagles than any other team in the NFC East. In four career games against Philly, COusins averages 336 yards per game passing to go with a 101.3 QB rating. He's thrown 10 touchdowns against the Eagles to just two interceptions. The biggest win of his career came last year when Cousins and the 'Skins clinched the NFC East title at Lincoln Financial Field. Cousins suceeds against the Eagles, and there's no reason it should stop Sunday. 
  5. Don't fly away - Rumors are starting to circulate that the Eagles would like to bring back DeSean Jackson next season. It's well known that Jackson will probably hit free agency after this season, and if Philly did pursuit their former playmaker, it would make sense. But between now and then, Jackson has another opportunity to torch his former team and help the Skins pursue a Wild Card bid at the same time. In his past two games, Jackson and COusins have connected on deep patterns, and there's little reason to tbink the same won't happen Sunday.

Numbers & Notes

  • If tight end Vernon Davis catches three passes he will become the 12th tight end in NFL history to record 500 career receptions.
  • With two more catches, wide receiver Jamison Crowder will set a single-season career high in receptions. He caught 59 passes in 2015.
  • If the Redskins win would mark five straight victories against the Eagles for the Redskins for the first time since a six-game winning streak in the series across the 1981-84 seasons.

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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Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Here is my weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL:

Before we get going, let’s line up the NFL wild card contenders by current seed and their remaining four games.

Giants (8-4): Cowboys, Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins
Bucs (7-5): Saints, @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (6-5-1): @Eagles, Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Vikings (6-6): @Jaguars, Colts, @Packers, Bears
Packers (6-6): Seahawks, @Bears, Vikings, @Lions
Cardinals (5-6-1): @Dolphins, Saints, @Seahawks, @Rams
Saints (5-7): @Bucs, @Cardinals, Bucs, @Falcons
Eagles (5-7): Redskins, @Ravens, Giants, Cowboys

—The Redskins can knock the Eagles out of any practical chance of making the playoffs with a win on Sunday. An Eagles loss would mean they could finish no better than 8-8 and that is highly unlikely to get it done this year.

—For a second straight week, Redskins fans need to root for Cowboys to win. Or for their opponent to lose. Some wanted to make that distinction last week when Cowboys played the Vikings and the optimal outcome for the Redskins was a Dallas win. However you want to look at it, a Giants loss to Dallas could move the Redskins to within a half game of the No. 5 seed.

MORE REDSKINS: Assessing the four remainig opponents

—There should be no hesitation about pulling for the Saints to beat the Bucs. A Washington win and a Tampa Bay loss puts the Redskins back into playoff position with the No. 6 seed. The Bucs are 2.5-point favorites at home. They are the hot team, coming in with four straight wins while New Orleans has lost three of four. The Saints are on the fringe of contention but Redskins fans need to pull for the teams ahead of Washington in the standings.

—The Redskins can’t look for much help when it comes to the team immediately behind them in the standings. The Vikings visit the Jaguars, who are locked in to yet another season of double-digit losses. You might be tempted to look for the home underdog to put up a fight and they might. But Blake Bortles has thrown three pick sixes this year and the Vikings have returned two interceptions for TDs this year. Look for such a play to be decisive and for the Vikings to remain tight with Washington in the standings.

—The other team a half game behind the Redskins is the Packers. They host the Seahawks in what could be very snowy conditions in Green Bay. Seattle is a three-point favorite but if the weather gets crazy anything could happen. Redskins fans need to root for the Seahawks, for obvious reasons.

RELATED: Three Redskins out on Sunday, Reed questionable

—The Cardinals creeped back into contention with their win over the Redskins. That win and the fact that they have a tie on their ledger means that the Redskins do not want to finish with the same record as Arizona. This is one of the few situations where a tiebreaker would matter. It’s an easy call to pull for them to fall to the AFC Dolphins.

—I went 2-1 last week, winning with the Patriots over the Rams and the Seahawks over the Panthers. I have four NFL picks this week, all of them road favorites: the Redskins -1 on the road over the Eagles, the Cowboys -3 at the Giants, the Falcons -6 over the Rams in L.A., and the Seahawks giving three to the Packers.