Published 1:18 p.m.: The Washington Redskins are leaning toward using the franchise tag to retain the services of outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, a person with knowledge of the situation said. No final decision has been made, however, and the team’s decision-makers were said to be in the final stages of deliberations as Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline approaches.
The team and Orakpo’s representatives have continued to haggle over figures for a long-term deal, but it appears unlikely that they will get a deal done prior to the 4 p.m. deadline by which teams must use the franchise tag.
Because of their plentiful needs, the Redskins had some reluctance about using the franchise tag because the figure for a linebacker is worth $11.455 million for a one-year deal, and all of that would count against the cap. The Redskins also are aware that Orakpo’s camp would argue that he is instead entitled to the franchise deal for a defensive end, which is worth $13.116 million because of the number of snaps he played at each position last season.
While aware that using the tag on Orakpo would consume just more than a third of their roughly $30 million in cap space, the Redskins also know that the outside linebacker free agent class is rather thin this year. And without a first-round draft pick, the team doesn’t have a strong chance of selecting an elite-level pass-rusher in this spring’s college draft.
Washington’s decision-makers believe that if they let Orakpo walk, there would be a significant drop-off between him and the players they must choose from to replace him.
Backups Rob Jackson and Darryl Tapp both are free agents, but this past season, they combined for just three sacks and 29 tackles. Pittsburgh’s Jason Worilds appears to be the next-best option to Orakpo on the free agent market. But the Virginia Tech product has never served as a full-time starter in his five NFL seasons. This past season marked his most active as he started 11 games and recorded 64 tackles and eight sacks while also forcing two fumbles. If the Redskins opt at the last minute not to franchise Orakpo, and if talks unravel and he goes elsewhere, Washington is expected to pursue Worilds once free agency’s negotiation period begins on Saturday.