WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Brian Orakpo was set to become one of the highest-paid free agents in the NFL this offseason, until the Redskins swooped in an applied the franchise tag to him yesterday.
When it comes to the franchise tag — of which each NFL team has one, and can apply to one player each offseason — it’s often a bitter pill for players to swallow.
The players can build up in their mind the moment of being wined and dined by execs from other teams all they want, but the franchise tag serves as the carrot ever-dangling behind their ear, which their current team — in this case with Orakpo, the Redskins — can remind them of its existence with one clean sweep across the face, even if only eight days removed from free agency.
“Nobody cares as long as you get what you deserve,” Orakpo said of not being able to be courted by other franchises, often a highlight of many NFL players’ careers.
“Nobody’s really worried about what the value is,” he said. “Who cares? As long as you get something done that both sides can agree on, that’s what it’s all about in the long run. It is what it is. Like I said, they made the first move with franchise-tagging me.”
“I’m excited to continue to play football, and to continue to get better, and we’ll go from there. We made a step moving forward — and I keep reiterating that because like I said, it was at a point where we were at a stalemate — but they made a step moving forward, and hopefully it can work itself out in the long run.”
“It is business. People got to understand it’s a business. I understand from the Redskins standpoint, and they understand from my standpoint, and, like I said, I’m just glad we’re at least moving forward, because they did prioritize me in this offseason, and I really appreciate them for that.”
There is an added level of nuance with the Redskins applying the franchise tag to Orakpo, though. That is to say, in this instance, it’s not as cut and dry as the team paying him the average of the top 5 players at his position, as franchise tag rules typically dictate, because it’s difficult to nail down exactly what his position is.
Orakpo was drafted (in 2009) as a defensive end. Since then however, only in his rookie season did he play a full 16 games with his hand in the dirt.
In his four seasons under Mike Shanahan, Orakpo has played almost exclusively at outside linebacker in the Redskins 3-4 defense — seldom dropping into a three-point stance. What difference does this make, you might ask?
Orakpo would stand to make roughly $2 million more being classified as an end.
He declined to comment on how he’ll be paid — whether according to the average of the NFL’s top 5 linebackers or defensive ends. It sounds as though he and his agent may still be hashing that discrepancy out with the team, behind closed doors.
“This is new to me,” Orakpo said. “I don’t know how all the franchise tag stuff really works. But at least it is a step moving forward.”