The Washington Redskins have made it clear that they intend to re-sign top pass-rusher Brian Orakpo, but he’s not the only outside linebacker about whom the Redskins must make a decision this offseason.
Backups Rob Jackson and Darryl Tapp also have expiring contracts.
Jackson served as a key contributor in 2012 when Orakpo missed all but two games with injury, but had only a limited impact in 2013 with Orakpo healthy again. Tapp, meanwhile, dressed for 11 games but saw only limited action as he played behind Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.
Jackson finished the year with 19 tackles, two sacks and an interception. In his lone start, he recorded four tackles. Jackson’s numbers possibly could’ve looked a little better, but h missed the first four games of the season with a suspension.
Tapp notched 10 tackles and a sack. He, like Jackson, also contributed on special teams.
The Redskins certainly need to ensure that they have quality depth behind Orakpo and Kerrigan, and they must find strong special teams contributors as they look to rebound from last year’s woes.
In Jackson, they have a player that knows their system well. He’s not on the same level as Orakpo or Kerrigan, but he has the capability to start at either position should one of them get hurt.
Tapp, meanwhile, made a pretty smooth transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, and he too can line up on either end of the line. But he’s certainly not irreplaceable or as valuable as Jackson.
Washington has a young prospect on the roster in Brandon Jenkins, the Florida State pass-rusher they selected in the fifth round last season. Jenkins had spent all of his career as a defensive end. But Redskins coaches loved his athleticism and natural pass-rushing skills, and say that had it not been for an injury that robbed him of the majority of his senior season, Jenkins probably would have ranked among the top pass-rushers in the 2013 draft.
Now, it’s hard to say if that’s true. But Jenkins didn’t seem to live up to expectations in his rookie season. He dressed for only five games and recorded just one tackle. An ankle injury sidelined him in Week 3, and even after he healed, Jenkins found it hard to get back onto the field once Jackson returned to action.
The first year of transition from end to outside linebacker poses all sorts of challenges for any player, so you can’t pass judgment on Jenkins yet. It’s probably not wise to count on him as the top outside linebacker reserve behind Orakpo and Kerrigan, either.
If Jenkins can make a significant leap in Year 2, however, a backup tandem of he and Jackson would prove solid.
Jackson last season played on a one-year deal for roughly $1.2 million. He hurt his earning potential with the four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. But he still would probably come at a relatively affordable price tag, if he wants to return.
Jackson has spent six seasons with the Redskins, but he probably will not start here unless Orakpo or Kerrigan is injured.
But because of his limited body of work, it’s hard to say how much interest Jackson will generate on the open market.