Brian Orakpo gets franchise tag from Redskins

Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (98) returns an interception for a touchdown as the Washington Redskins play the Chicago Bears at FedExField, Landover, Md., October 20, 2013. (Dan DeCook/Special to The Washington Times)Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (98) returns an interception for a touchdown as the Washington Redskins play the Chicago Bears at FedExField, Landover, Md., October 20, 2013. (Dan DeCook/Special to The Washington Times)
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Brian Orakpo is likely to remain with the Washington Redskins for at least one more season.

The Redskins announced Monday that they have placed the non-exclusive franchise designation on the outside linebacker, meaning they will tender him a one-year contract offer worth $11.455 million.

Such a decision doesn’t guarantee Orakpo, who was set to become a free agent when the league year opens on March 11, will play for the Redskins this season. While rare, the non-exclusive designation means another team can sign Orakpo, provided it surrenders two future first-round picks to the Redskins as compensation.

It also doesn’t prevent the Redskins from negotiating a long-term contract with Orakpo. The league mandates that any team using the franchise designation has until July 15 to sign that player to a deal beyond the one-year contract tender.

Orakpo, 27, said several times during the season that he was interested in returning to the Redskins after his contract expired, and new coach Jay Gruden said he “would love to get Brian back” while addressing reporters at the NFL combine 10 days ago.

The decision was complicated by an evaluation of Orakpo’s ability, his health and his worth on the open market. Only twice in five seasons did Orakpo reach double digits in sacks — he had 11 as a rookie in 2009 and had 10 last season — and he has torn his left pectoral twice in the last three seasons.

His representatives also figured to demand a contract similar to the six-year, $69.73 million contract extension signed by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews last April — one which would pay Orakpo an annual average value of approximately $11.6 million over the length of the deal.

Financially, that could still be a reality. With the salary cap set at $133 million for the upcoming season, the Redskins reportedly will have approximately $30 million available to sign free agents, and a clever negotiation of Orakpo’s contract could push the bulk of that salary cap hit into future seasons.

The Redskins have rarely used the franchise designation since it was introduced in 1993. The last player to receive such a contract offer was tight end Fred Davis, who remained with the team following the 2011 season.

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