Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo hosted his annual Leukemia Golf Classic on Monday morning and told reporters there that the pectoral muscle injury that cost him almost the entire 2012 season had healed. He says he feels totally different then he did a year ago, when he was recovering from a different pectoral injury. Per Rich Campbell:
“It feels differently because I’m not having any aches,” he said. “I’m not having any pains. I’m not having any sort of discomforts. A lot of times when you come back from a severe injury, you can have some setbacks. You can have some discomfort, but you try to play through it. This time around, it really has been beneficial for me as far as not really feeling anything.
Orakpo believes he is not at risk of re-injuring the pec as he did last season.
“It just was a freak accident,” he said.
“I couldn’t be any more healthier. I continue to get my maintenance in each and every day before we start our workout program just to kind of stay on top of it this time around.”
While the Redskins have managed well during this offseason of salary-cap troubles, they're likely to need more cap room before it's over, if only to sign the rookies they just drafted. And while they've stayed away from the kinds of contract restructures other teams do routinely -- shifting money into future years in exchange for short-term relief, Orakpo's contract situation could offer a smart, responsible means of short-term relief. Orakpo counts $5.109 million against this year's cap, and his contract expires at the end of the season. Doing a contract extension with him between now and the start of the season could be a wise short-term and long-term move.
If the Redskins extended Orakpo now, they could reduce his 2013 cap number in exchange for additional dollars and years on a new deal. And since his last two seasons have ended because of pectoral muscle injuries, they might be able to get him at a relative discount. Orakpo is a former first-round draft pick who's been quite productive when on the field, and if he stays healthy he's likely to outperform his current, injury-deflated value. If the Redskins could get Orakpo to agree to a below-market deal this offseason, the discounted price could be worth the risk of his getting hurt again.
Of course, it takes two sides to make a deal, and Orakpo could decide he's willing to play out the season and hit the market next year, maximizing his value if he stays healthy and piles up the sacks. That's a risky play for any player, let alone one who's shown a propensity for injury early in his career, but he wouldn't be the first to take such a risk. The Redskins would be wise to see what he'll sign for in the coming months. A long-term extension for Orakpo could be something that helps both sides.