Redskins franchise tag linebacker Brian Orakpo
The Washington Redskins have opted to use the franchise tag on linebacker Brian Orakpo, who bounced back from an injury-riddled 2012 season to once again play like a Pro-Bowler in 2013.
The Redskins now retain the free-agent rights to the 27 year-old, which means if another team did try to sign him they could be compensated with up to two first-round picks.
Orakpo led the team sacks, tackles for loss, and quarterback pressures. He also recorded 70 tackles for good measure.
New Redskins head coach Jay Gruden spoke glowingly of Orakpo at this year’s Scouting Combine, foreshadowing such a move ahead of free agency.
“He’s a top priority for us. We’d love to get Brian back,” Gruden told reporters. “Obviously, we have a lot of respect for what Brian has done as a Washington Redskin. We hope to get him back next year, no question.”
Tagging Orakpo does carry some risk, though.
The fifth-year player has played all 16 games just twice in his career, and has not played a full slate since 2011. While the team is expected to pursue a longer term deal, the current tag does leave them on the hook for a fully guaranteed contract this season.
This is a good move by Washington because, while Orakpo does have some injury concerns, he is very productive when healthy and is only 27. Pass-rushers are a premium in the NFL, so applying the tag allows the Redskins to be compensated if another team wants to sign him, and if another team doesn’t sign him, they get to see how his health plays out this season before negotiating a long-term deal.
This marks the first time since 2012 the Redkins have used the franchise tag, and only the fourth time in team history.