The franchise tag wasn't the best option for either side. Brian Orakpo potentially loses long-term security. The Redskins might have to pay more to keep him around than they wanted.
But it was the one the Redskins needed to do -- and Orakpo is glad for one thing. It means he's not going anywhere else. For another year at least. In the meantime, the two sides will continue to work toward a long-term contract. Orakpo said he's optimistic a deal can be reached.
"Hopefully we get that done and make this work for both of us," Orakpo said. "I'm relieved that we're moving forward. This is the next step. I'm happy we're not in a stalemate like we were before. Hopefully we can get that long-term deal done, but as of now I'm glad to make this step."
The Redskins designated the non-exclusive franchise tag, which means if another team signs him they would receive two first-round picks. The move will cost Washington $11.45 million against the salary cap (barring a multi-year deal). The Redskins have approximately $30 million in cap space and now more than a third will be tied up in Orakpo. They can free up more cap space by releasing other players.
"That's something I have no control over," Orakpo said. "You don't want to lose more players and then try to make more holes. You want to keep the ones you want and keep adding so we can get to that level like Seattle was last year."
Orakpo said there is risk in playing on a one-year deal.
"There's always risk when you play this game," he said. "That's why the long-term security is very important to players. I won't BS you and say it's not a risk. It's not something you think about when you're out there. You want to make sure you're secure, especially when it's your time and your contract is up. I'm excited ... they're not letting a home-grown talent just walk out there."
Orakpo has 39.5 sacks since joining the Redskins as a first-round pick in 2009. He played only two games in 2012 after suffering a torn pectoral muscle, his second. But he played all of 2013 without his arm being an issue.
One thing that would help Orakpo is more game-changing plays and sacks. He's never had fewer than eight sacks, but his career best is 11. However, the Redskins asked their outside linebackers to drop into coverage more than most or to rush with more of an emphasis on contain. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said earlier this offseason they planned to turn their outside linebackers loose more.
"That's what they informed me not too long ago," Orakpo said. "We'll see what happens. I know they have a lot in store letting the chains off a little bit and we're able to get after it and make more plays. I'm excited."