The lower third of Mark Maske’s post yesterday about Brian Orakpo and his health contained these nuggets:

Orakpo is entering the final season of his contract and, barring an extension, would be eligible for free agency next offseason. He said he hasn’t had any contract talks with the team to this point.

“We haven’t discussed it,” Orakpo said. “We’re just getting ready for this year. That’s something that’s in the back of my mind right now. It’s really hard to discuss it. We know what’s at stake. The coaches know what I mean to this organization. That shouldn’t be a problem once it’s all said and done. Obviously the [salary] cap issue is a big issue with us right now. So that’s something we’ve got to put on the back burner as we speak and move forward until we get some money back.”

The salary cap is an issue now, but it won’t be going forward — certainly not to the degree it would keep the Redskins from giving Orakpo an extension before he hits the free agent market, or signing him to a new deal once he does.

Orakpo sounds like he gets it. Each side could play it safe by going into the 2013 season without a long-term commitment, but there’s risk for each as well.

Orakpo is coming off a season in which he played two games. After 28.5 sacks in his first three seasons, he had one last year, and isn’t negotiating from a position of strength. If he comes back and has a great season, then his position gets even stronger, since as a free agent, other teams could join the bidding and drive the price up.

His risk, however, is getting hurt again. Going into free agency off of consecutive seasons being injured wouldn’t help him at all. So he might be motivated to sign an extension with the Redskins before free agency arrives, to safeguard himself from that situation. Then he can also play this season without worrying about how it’s affecting his value.

It sounds like Orakpo wants to stay:

“I would love to be a Redskin for life,” Orakpo said. “That’s my goal. Obviously when I talk to Mr. [owner Daniel] Snyder, he says that’s his goal. Coach [Mike] Shanahan says that’s his goal. As long as both sides take care of our business, that shouldn’t be a problem.”

Would it make good business sense for the Redskins to extend Orakpo rather than risk losing him in free agency? How much ground would each side have to give, financially, to make a deal palatable? How much does the play of the other outside linebackers affect the risk Washington might be willing to take?

As a fan, what would you like to see happen with Orakpo and his contract status?

Could Brian Orakpo be making plays for the Redskins for years to come? (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

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