- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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That means proving himself once more -- a step Orakpo said is unnecessary.
"I have to prove myself again, huh?" Orakpo said, speaking at his Leukemia & Lymphoma Society golf tournament Monday. "I don't have to prove myself to anybody. I'm already proven in this league. I don't have to prove anything to anybody. That goes for fans, that goes for media. Anybody. I'm well-proven in this league. If it doesn't work out, then it doesn't work out, but I don't have to prove anything to anybody."
Orakpo signed a $11.45 million franchise tender earlier this offseason but made it known that he'd welcome a long-term deal with Washington, the team that drafted him 13th overall in 2009.
However, the Redskins appear to have a wait-and-see attitude regarding Orakpo. Though he's been an effective player, his career-best sack total is 11, which was set as a rookie. He's coming off a 10-sack season and has never recorded less than seven when he's played a full season.
"I wouldn't mind letting him play out this franchise tag and see what happens," Gruden said at the owners' meetings last month. "He's a talented player. I think he can do a little better, we can ask more of him to where he could be more productive."
The Redskins also have a decision to make on linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and whether or not they should pick up his fifth-year option, a decision that must be made by May 3. General manager Bruce Allen said, "We love Ryan and we'll have an announcement soon."
And while Allen said there was no update toward a long-term deal with Orakpo, he also said, "We like Ryan and Rak together and we think they have the possibility of being a great tandem for years to come."
The Redskins said they plan on altering their pass rush philosophy to give both outside linebackers more chances to make plays -- Orakpo in particular. At times in the past, they focused more on containing the outside when they rushed, rather than just going after the quarterback. Orakpo said defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has expressed this to him.
"This defense is built around us," Orakpo said. "This is the first time these guys have expressed that to me in the four years I've been with Haslett. I need to go into the season with that mentality. This defense is built around myself and Kerrigan to get after it and create and make everyone else's job easier."
If that happens, then Orakpo would receive the sort of deal he wants. For now, though, he might have to wait.
"Obviously I still want something done, hopefully sooner than later," Orakpo said. "I don't want to be in a situation where this stuff is lingering through the season. My best interests, their best interest is hopefully we get something done. Who knows? It's a business and I have to look out for myself as well."
17hEric D. Williams