The Washington Redskins really didn’t have much of a choice. With Brian Orakpo a potential free agent after next season, the smart move was to make sure they didn’t have to replace two outside linebackers in one offseason.
So they picked up Ryan Kerrigan's fifth-year option Friday. Yes, it’s another expensive contract (about $7.3 million) and you can debate if he belongs in a certain category. But if he hit the open market after 2014, he would probably command something in the $7-million-a-year range. It’s not a major stretch for Washington to pay him this much money, and for one year it won’t hurt.
Kerrigan is not an elite rusher, but he also won’t be paid that way. He’s a guy with a high motor who plays well off others. It sounds simplistic, but not everyone does this, and it results in sacks and big plays (10 forced fumbles on 24.5 sacks). He’s able to create on his own, particularly when they rush him inside the tackle or guard. Though he’s not great in coverage, he’s paid to rush the passer. He also was off to a terrific start in 2013 before hurting his knee. Kerrigan won't blame his lack of production in the second half of the season on the injury, but there was a drop-off in play. We'll find out in 2014 if it was the knee or not.
The Redskins will face a bigger quandary with Orakpo next offseason when they decide what he’s worth (again). They are content to let him play out the season on the franchise tag and then negotiate. If he has a great season, they would probably pay him with big smiles on their faces. If not? They can let him go and start over, albeit at an important spot.
The Redskins have expressed interest in several pass-rushers who could be available in the second round next week, bringing a handful in for visits. We’ll see what that means once they start selecting players.
But their goal would be to keep Kerrigan and Orakpo together for a few more seasons. They have put together a situation where they feel both can flourish. They added an outside linebackers coach in Brian Baker who has coached a number of excellent pass-rushers. They added an interior pass-rusher in Jason Hatcher. They have proclaimed a desire to turn the rushers loose more often.
Both Kerrigan and Orakpo will have a chance to prove they are worth what the Redskins have invested.