Jan 01, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) is chased by Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo (98) during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Redskins 34-10. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Orakpo 2014 NFL Free Agency Destination: Green Bay Packers

Things have become somewhat muddled for Brian Orakpo.  Once the unquestioned star in the nation’s capital, suddenly his future is clouded by injury as NFL free agency looms for him.  A regression in 2013 could mean he must find a new team in 2014.  Are the Green Bay Packers poised for a rare free agent move?

Washington Redskins hoping Orakpo reverts to form

Two years ago it was a foregone conclusion.  The Washington Redskins knew they had to collect the needed money to make Brian Orakpo their highest paid star on defense.  He’d only missed one game between 2009 and 2011 and produced 28.5 sacks in that span.  No other Redskins defender came close.  So one might say the Pro Bowler picked a really bad time to suffer a season-ending injury.  Last year Orakpo was forced to the sideline after just two games with a torn pectoral muscle.  It was the third injury on that area of his body in a nine month span.  That is the kind of thing that scares teams since it means the player could become a liability because a single part of his body can’t take the physical grind of football anymore.  It’s similar to how many NBA centers don’t last because of repeated foot injuries. Washington knows they must be careful with their money.  Orakpo needs not just a productive season in 2013 but must show his body can hold up.  Another costly injury may force the Redskins to let him test the market next year.

Packers can try limited FA strike after Clay Matthews and Aaron Rodgers lock ups

Ironically one of the top teams that may want to take a stab at him is a team that almost never makes a big signing in free agency.  The Green Bay Packers are almost solely a draft-driven team under the guidance of GM Ted Thompson.  It has served them well for the most part.  They have reached the playoffs every year since 2009 and won the Super Bowl in 2010.  At the heart of their success are two star players in linebacker Clay Matthews and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  The Packers stayed focused on making sure both of them were locked up before they too had a chance to reach free agency.  This proved a success as each landed a lucrative new deal.  Now the team can focus on filling out the roster around them with more talent.  A key part of that is free agency. Green Bay should have over $14 million in salary cap space by March of 2014.  While not a huge sum, it is more than enough for one big signing.

The reason Brian Orakpo makes sense is his fit in their scheme.  They have needed a consistent second threat at outside linebacker opposite Matthews for years.  Experiments with names like Erik Walden and Nick Perry have had disappointing results.  Bringing Orakpo in with his 8+ sacks per season average would take so much pressure off Matthews to provide the pass rush.  The key factors to this happening are what Green Bay plans for its own pending free agents like B.J. Raji and Sam Shields.  If they can work through the numbers then the Packers could make their first big free agent moves in years.

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Tags: Aaron Rodgers Brian Orakpo Clay Matthews Green Bay Packers NFL Free Agency Washington Redskins

  • Adam Banig

    Nice try, I’ve heard they will try hard to lock him up before the season starts.

    The Pack has Nick Perry & Clay Matthews Jr, they don’t need Rak anyways. We need to lock him up though because with Philly switching to the 3-4, I’m concerned I’d we don’t sign him long term- they will!

    • Erik Lambert

      Divisional theft is rampant everywhere. Besides, there is a big difference between talking about a new contract and working one out.

      • Adam Banig

        Very true. As a redskins fan, I just don’t see it happening of Rak is healthy this year. The team will lock him up. Rak has said he wants to be a redskin for life and the team is saying they want to lock him up before the season, if possible

        • Erik Lambert

          They have to lock him up. He’s the best pass rusher they have by far. As to what Rak says, it may be true but that won’t stop him from seeking a better deal if he feel it is best for him and his family. That is why the ball is in the court of Washington.

  • Adam Banig

    The Redskins have also expressed wanting to get a
    Long term deal done before the season starts. It’s both sides wanting to agree to a long term deal.

    I get it, you see him as a potential FA and think he’d fit we’ll in GB, which he would but he’s not a free agent yet and Washington definitely has the first crack at him and will have more than enough $ to sign him next year as Mara and Goddell’s cap gate against the Redskins is finally over.

    Lastly, there is no doubt Rak is the Redskins best pass rusher but its not “by far” Kerrigan is virtually on the same sack pace Rak was on after two years (minus the Jamarcus Russell game where Rak got 4 sacks vs Oak in 2009) Actually, Kerrigan might be a better all around player as he has returned two interceptions for touchdowns and is more stout vs the run.

    • Erik Lambert

      That’s just it. It’s all speculation. I love speculation because of the possibilities. In all likelihood he’s staying in Washington (which as a Bears fan I hope he does). Once Orakpo and Kerrigan get back together things should be better.