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Will the Redskins franchise tag Orakpo?

Will the Redskins franchise tag Orakpo?

Will the Redskins use the franchise tag on Brian Orakpo?

The pending free agent linebacker is headed to his third Pro Bowl in five years in the league. He is coming off of perhaps his best all-around season since he entered the league in 2009. Orakpo is not a truly dominant pass rusher but he’s one of the better ones out there and since pass defense starts with pass rush and it’s a passing league teams will be willing to pay Orakpo very well for his services.

If the Redskins think that the bidding for Orakpo could get out of hand, including a scenario where a team with a ton of cap space like the Raiders or Jaguars swoops in and puts a huge deal on the table for him, the franchise tag would be an option for them.

The exact amount of the franchise tag tender for linebackers can’t be determined until the 2014 salary cap is set but it is expected to be in the neighborhood of $11 million.

That is a pretty hefty amount. Does Orakpo deserve to make about as much as the likes of Terrell Suggs ($12.4 million in 2014), Tamba Hali ($11.5 million), and Clay Matthews ($11.1 million) and more than NFL sack leader Robert Mathis ($8.75 million)? Probably not but that doesn’t mean that the Redskins should not consider the franchise tag for him.

The upside for the team is that it gives them flexibility. It’s a one-year deal. If Orakpo has a down year due to injury or other reasons the team will not be stuck with a big contract going forward. The team can see how he does in 2014 and then decide if they want to sign or franchise him in 2015. Tagging Orakpo for the second straight year would cost the higher of the tender amount for that year or 120 percent of his 2014 earnings ($13.2 million).

One disadvantage of using the tag is that all of the salary is charged to that season’s cap. An $11 million hit would eat up about a third of the Redskins’ available space, leaving them with less to address their myriad of other needs. A long-term deal could be structured to take up less cap space in the early seasons.

While getting tagged in back to back years is not what most players want, it might not be a bad deal for Orakpo. He would get over $24 million over two years, just under the average per year that Matthews is getting on the extension he signed last year. The downside for him is the lack of security. If he doesn’t play well enough in 2014 to warrant getting tagged again he likely will end up signing a smaller deal than he would be able to get this year.

But it’s not up to Orakpo; the CBA puts that decision in the hands of the team. They have some time so figure it out. They can designate a franchise player as early February 17 and the deadline is March 3. If they do tag Orakpo the two sides would have until July 15 to agree on a long-term contract. After that Orakpo will have to play out the season under the tag.

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

Kirk Cousins repeatedly said his free agent decision will not be just about money. Be clear, however, that money will be a huge factor in this decision. 

After the Redskins traded with Kansas City to acquire Alex Smith before the Super Bowl, it became obvious Washington will move on from Cousins. Whether that means the quarterback simply walks away in free agency or the organization attempts a highly risky tag-and-trade scenario, regardless, Cousins will throw footballs for another franchise in 2018.

Cousins wants to choose where he will play via free agency, and might even file a grievance if the Redskins do deploy a third franchise tag to control his rights.

Assuming Cousins hits free agency, a new report out of New York suggests the Jets will pay "whatever it takes" to land the passer. That could even include a fully guaranteed contract, and will certainly get close to a $30 million a year price tag. 

A notion exists too that Cousins might take less to go to a winner, and many think that could be the Broncos. Denver won five games in 2017, same as the Jets, though the Broncos have a strong defense and have been getting particularly awful QB play. 

The important thing to remember for curious Redskins fans watching the Cousins saga unfold: Don't expect much, if any, discount. 

The quarterback himself made that clear. 

"There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract," Cousins said last year on 106.7 the Fan.

The quotes came after the 2016 season but before the Redskins again used a franchise tag with Cousins for the 2017 season. Washington wanted to attempt a long-term deal with Cousins at that point, though the quarterback decided to not negotiate and instead play on the tag.

The point remains that Cousins, and his representatives, believe the quarterback has a duty to other players to maximize his earnings. 

"If you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you, then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can."

If he hits free agency, Cousins will likely sign the richest contract in NFL history. Those opportunities don't come around often, and the quarterback should take full advantage. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 19, 23 days before NFL free agency starts.

Monday musings

—One possible solution to the left guard spot is perhaps being overlooked. Ty Nsekhe played there some last year, starting the game in Dallas and playing there until Morgan Moses got injured, forcing him to move to right tackle. Nsekhe is slated to be a restricted free agent but his return is likely. In December I asked Jay Gruden if Nsekhe might move to guard in 2018. “I think Ty is a big man and a very good tackle, but in the offseason when we have more time, maybe we can feature him at some guard when we’ve got all our guys back,” he said. “Feature him some” doesn’t mean that they will make him a starter; perhaps they want him to be the top option to fill in at four of the five OL positions. But it’s something to keep an eye on if they don’t land a left guard solution in free agency or the draft.

—When I posted about Albert Breer’s report that Kirk Cousins would file a grievance if the Redskins put the franchise tag on him in an effort to trade him, I pulled up a copy of the CBA to see the language on which Cousins could base his case. I read through the Article 10, which deals with the franchise tag twice and I saw nothing of it. But Mike Florio found it in Article 4, the one that deals with player contracts. “A Club extending a Required Tender must, for so long as that Tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” Since the Redskins clearly have no intention of employing Cousins after the Alex Smith trade, this seems to be a fairly simple case. In reality, it never is.

—I tweeted this last week:

However, possible cap casualties from other teams are not included in that group. That won’t turn the pool of players who will become available to sign into a bunch of potential franchise changers. Still, there could be a number of players in whom the Redskins could be interested in like RB DeMarco Murray, WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Torrey Smith, edge rusher Elvis Dumervil, and DL Brandon Mebane. A plus to signing players who have been waived is that they don’t count in the formula that determines compensatory draft picks. The Redskins have never really paid attention to that in the past but with potential high comp picks at stake if they lose both Kirk Cousins and Bashaud Breeland, this could be a good year to start.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 10
—NFL Draft (4/26) 66
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 202

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