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Will The Redskins Use The Franchise Tag?

Posted Feb 17, 2014

Franchise tagging opens up later today and the Washington Redskins have a host of free agents to consider. But are any of them worth the high one-year investment?

All reports and conjecture in the article below are a reflection of the writer's opinion and are not necessarily endorsed by the Washington Redskins.


The National Football League's soft launch into free agency continues today, as teams can elect to apply the franchise tag to an impending free agent.

The tag guarantees the player his full salary, determined by the average of the top five salaries at the player's position in the previous season.

The money increases if the player is tagged additional times in his career. A player may also continue negotiating with the club to secure a long-term contract, or, in non-exclusive situations, look elsewhere to secure a trade.

Since the franchise tag's inception in 1993, the Washington Redskins have used the tag only three times. Only one of those players has actually suited up for the team the following season.

It has been two seasons since the Redskins designated the franchise tag to tight end Fred Davis, who was coming off of his rookie contract and a four-game suspension.

With big moves on the horizon, and the sense that Davis would be a key part of the action, the move made sense for both sides at the time.

Davis would start the season as Robert Griffin III's top target before tearing his Achilles' tendon in Week 7 vs. the New York Giants. Those are the risks involved with a fully guaranteed contract.

After forgoing the tag last offseason, the Washington Redskins find themselves with ample resources, but a number of targets worth considering for the tag, should they choose to use it.

According to NFL.com, the team's free agent list includes: quarterback Rex Grossman; receivers Dezmon Briscoe, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss; tight end Fred Davis; center/guard J.D. Walton; defensive tackle Chris Baker; linebackers Rob Jackson, Brian Orakpo, Darryl Tapp, Nick Barnett, London Fletcher, Bryan Kehl, Perry Riley Jr.; cornerbacks E.J. Biggers, DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson; safeties Reed Doughty, Jose Gumbs and Brandon Meriweather.

Of these players, consideration for a top-tier contract likely comes down to Orakpo, Hall and Riley Jr.. Here is a look at each player's credentials:

Brian Orakpo, OLB

Coming off of injury that limited him to two games in 2012, Orakpo predicted he would garner NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors last April.

Ultimately falling short of his lofty prediction, Orakpo still turned in his best season since his rookie campaign, finishing strong to represent the team at the Pro Bowl.

Final stat line: 70 tackles, 15 for a loss, 10 sacks, 42 pressures, interception, five passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and the first touchdown of his career.

Pros: Orakpo is in the best position of his career, finally complemented by another young pass rusher in Ryan Kerrigan on the other side.

With career sack No. 36 in Week 12 vs. San Francisco, Orakpo passed Dave Butz (35.5) for fifth on the Redskins’ all-time list. From Weeks 10-13, Orakpo had 5.5 sacks, the best four-game stretch of his career.

After battling pectoral injuries in 2011 and 2012, Orakpo also appears to be entering his physical prime, where opportunity and hard work converge at success.

Cons: The one knock on Orakpo has been his performance in big games, particularly division battles, where he has yet to record a defining moment.

Against NFC East opponents, Orakpo did not record his first sack until 2011 and has just seven for his career. He has yet to record a sack against Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys.

For his career, he has just seven forced turnovers and one touchdowns in 64 career games. Fortunately, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has discussed letting him and Kerrigan freestyle more to make plays moving forward.

Prognosis: Unlikely, unless a long-term deal cannot be reached.

DeAngelo Hall, CB

There might be no motivation in the world better than feeling unwanted. Hall faced free agency for only the second time in his career this offseason, after he was released from his contract to get under the salary cap. He returned to the Redskins on a reportedly low-money contract and played Pro Bowl-caliber football.

Rising to the occasion against some of the best receivers in the NFL, Hall showed that he still has an excellent nose for the football and end zone, even at age 30.

Final stat line: 106 tackles, 79 solo, team-leading four interceptions, team-leading 17 passes defensed, one forced fumble, four fumble recoveries, three touchdowns.

Pros: Hall silenced the critics in 2014, scoring the team's first points of the season with a fumble recovery for a touchdown in Week 1 vs. Philadelphia. He scored three touchdowns this season, leading NFL defensive players and setting a Redskins franchise record.

His four career fumble recovery touchdowns are the most among active players and tied for third-most in NFL history. His 40th interception put him into an elite group of active players, as he joined Ed Reed, Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson. He also tallied his 20th interception as a member of the Redskins.

Cons: If 2013 was any indication, the best is still yet to come. But age and injury are likely to play a factor at some point, as Hall enters his 11th season in the NFL.

If the Redskins are thinking about a long-term investment in No. 23, consideration might be made for a transition to free safety at some point down the road, which changes the dynamics of the conversation.

Prognosis: Unlikely, but not out of the question. Hall will have a market this offseason, but he means a lot to this defense.

Perry Riley Jr., ILB

Although the jury is still out for some on Riley Jr., he has morphed into a tackle machine for the Redskins, taking over the tackle crown from London Fletcher on defense.

Still very young and with room to grow, projecting his ability down the road will be a key decision for the Redskins front office this offseason.

Final stat line: 158 tackles, 94 solo, seven for a loss, three sacks, 18 pressures, interception, nine passes defensed, fumble recovery.

Pros: It's no secret that Fletcher's physical ability declined a bit in his 16th season, necessitating greater contributions from Riley Jr. at the point of attack. He responded with his best season as a pro, contributing heavily to a middle-of-the-pack rushing defense.

Part of his impediment this year was a lackluster special teams unit that needed playmakers at the end of the season. At a point in the season when players are already succumbing to wear and tear, Riley Jr. played an extra 5-10 snaps per game on coverage units, collecting five tackles and the team's only punt downed inside the 20-yard line.

Cons: How much of Riley Jr.'s play was facilitated by the Iron Man, London Fletcher? The Redskins are virtually certain to find out this offseason, as Fletcher passes into retirement and Riley Jr. played well enough to figure into their plans. The tough decision will be to determine his value without No. 59 at his side, and who will take over the other inside position.

Prognosis: Unlikely to warrant the high salary. If the Redskins like him, expect a reasonable deal for both sides to get done.

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