- Country singer Tim McGraw not sorry for slapping female fan: ‘Things happen’
- Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks
- White House takes credit for drop in unaccompanied children at border
- International crises be damned, Obama’s fundraising trip must go on
- Friend of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev found guilty of impeding probe
- Train with MH17 plane crash bodies leaves rebel town in Ukraine
- Half of Colorado voters are OK with Hobby Lobby decision, poll shows
- HIV-killing condom to soon hit shelves in Australia
- Estonia pulls plug on Steven Seagal over praise for Putin
- Lawyer: Pelvic exam pics cost Hopkins $190 million
Strong finish should help Brian Orakpo in contract talks
Question of the Day
It was an otherwise forgettable play, yet for Brian Orakpo, it was significant.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan stepped up in the pocket on the final play of the third quarter on Sunday, looking to make something out of nothing. His path was cut off by Washington Redskins defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, and Orakpo, pursuing Ryan from behind, grabbed the quarterback and pulled him down.
The half-sack, plus one earlier in the game, allowed Orakpo to reach the 10-sack mark on the season — one typically considered the statistical benchmark for a very good pass rusher. He has seven sacks in the last six games, and the performance, albeit late in the season, is setting him up well for a new contract as his rookie deal expires in March.
Orakpo signed a five-year, $15.4 million contract just before training camp opened in 2009, after he was the No. 13 pick in that year’s draft.
He has routinely maintained that he would like to stay in Washington, but with the season not yet over, he has downplayed all talk of what will happen when free agency opens in March.
“I know it’s cliché to say it, and it’s easy to say, but I really do not care about the situation right now,” Orakpo said. “Then, once the season is officially over, come Dec. 30 or whatever the case may be, that when all that stuff — I can start worrying about it. At the same time, I know what’s at stake. I know what’s at hand, but I’m going to play football regardless. That’s what people need to realize.”
Accurately assessing Orakpo’s value on the open market, should he get there, will be difficult. Green Bay outside linebacker Clay Matthews signed a six-year, $69.73 million contract extension with the Packers in April. On the other end of the spectrum, the Cleveland Browns handed Paul Kruger, primarily a backup in four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, a five-year, $40.5 million contract in March.
Orakpo, though, isn’t a typical pass rusher. Within the confines of the Redskins‘ 3-4 defense, he’s asked to help in run support and drop into coverage — something many others, including Matthews, aren’t asked to do.
“I think he’s a heck of a player,” said defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. “I think he’s showed what he’s worth to this organization over four years. He’s been very successful. Obviously, he’s a heck of a rush guy, and the other things he does besides that, he’s outstanding covering tight ends and backs to the flat and in the run game. Him and Ryan are the reason why we’re so successful in the run. It’s hard to get outside with those two.”
Also a factor Orakpo’s value will be his injury history, which includes two pectoral tears sustained within the span of nine months. He tore his left pectoral in the final game of the 2011 season, then did it again in a Week 2 loss to the St. Louis Rams, leaving him out for the rest of the season.
Orakpo was healthy enough to participate in organized workouts last spring, but he said it wasn’t until midway through this season that he finally had moved past the mental hurdles of the injury. His strength and quickness, two of his most salient attributes, lend themselves to a powerful bull rush that he has used effectively to shed blocks, but he was hesitant to extend his arms with the injury weighing on his mind.
In recent games, Orakpo has found success incorporating a variety of inside counters, but has otherwise relied upon his strengths.
“He’s an explosive guy,” said linebackers coach Bob Slowik. “The thing with power is that power doesn’t mean you have to be big. He’s explosive. He’s quick-twitch, boom, gets into you. He’s got six hits, punch, and he surprises people, and he’s got a nice little burst around the edge when he needs to.”
Orakpo’s greatest case for a new contract, either with the Redskins or elsewhere, lies in his performance over the last six games. He has sacked the quarterback seven times, and his total now ranks tied for 11th in the league and fourth in the NFC.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- British Open: Billy Hurley III aims for productive trip
- Anthony Rendon not an All-Star, but he's been Nats' MVP
- Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again
- Wizards' Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr. hoping for big splash on small stage
- Identity crisis: The death of the legible autograph
Latest Blog Entries
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- Edward Snowden to work with Russia on anti-spy technology
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
- More immigrants deported from New Mexico center
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- Ron Paul: U.S. partly to blame for Malaysia Airlines disaster
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- Pro-Russia rebel commander suggests passengers died days before Malaysian flight
- Vladimir Putin pressured to aid Ukraine plane crash probe, rein in rebels
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq