- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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There's a little-known rule in NFL blogging that says you're allowed to link to your own work during the final two weeks of June or the first three weeks of July. Things get slow this time of year; you do what you've got to do.
In this morning's Breakfast Links, I wrote something about Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo, who's entering the final year of his contract and whose past two seasons have ended with pectoral muscle injuries. I had been convinced that the Redskins would work on a contract extension with Orakpo this offseason, but after talking to Redskins people last week at minicamp, I came away believing their plan was instead to let him play out the season and try and sign him next offseason if he has a good year.
Gregg Rosenthal doesn't miss anything, so this showed up on his blog not long after:
Coach Mike Shanahan must have some concern about Orakpo's ability to stay healthy because there's little doubt he's a difference-making pass rusher. The Redskins also know they can use the franchise tag next offseason if necessary, and that the team rarely loses out on a free agent bidding war.
I think Shanahan's (justifiable) concerns about Orakpo staying healthy are part of the issue here. But I think it's also worth noting that the Redskins currently project to have about $25 million-$30 million worth of cap room next year -- which, considering they lost $18 million each of the past two seasons to league-imposed penalties, is going to feel like an ocean of cap room. If Orakpo has a monster year, they'll be both willing and able to sign him for whatever the market demands.
It's also worth considering that Orakpo might be hard to draw into a contract discussion right now. After two straight years ended by injury, Orakpo isn't exactly Victor Cruz trying to cash in at the peak of his productive value. The Redskins might be able to get a bargain deal from Orakpo at this point, but he's a proud, confident guy who knows he can play at a high level in the NFL, and he's probably just as eager for the chance to go out and have a big pass-rushing year as the Redskins are to see him do it. Negotiating now likely isn't in Orakpo's best interest, and I don't think the Redskins are in a position where they have to risk a difficult future relationship with the player by dragging him into such a negotiation.
So that's where I think things stand. Now, having said all of that, watch the Redskins announce an Orakpo extension while I'm at lunch.