After he played on the one-year franchise tag in 2014, Brian Orakpo unsurprisingly did not receive another tag this time around from Washington, having appeared in just seven games before going down for the year with a pectoral injury. While the team would like to work something out to keep him in the fold, Dianna Marie Russini of NBC 4 Washington (Twitter link) hears that it’s “not looking good” for the two sides to reach an agreement before Orakpo hits the open market.
Last night, we heard that the Falcons are a potential frontrunner for Orakpo, and Russini confirms the team’s strong interest in the edge defender. She also adds another potential destination to the mix, reporting (via Twitter) that the Jaguars are “very interested” in Orakpo.
Jacksonville would be a somewhat curious fit for Orakpo. The Jags are a 4-3 team, so the 28-year-old would presumably make the move from his outside linebacker position in Washington’s 3-4 scheme into a new role, perhaps as the team’s “Leo” rusher. Even if that transition went smoothly, pass rushers aren’t necessarily one of Jacksonville’s many needs — the team actually tied for sixth in the NFL in 2014 with 45 sacks.
Still, Pro Football Focus’s data (subscription required) suggests the Jaguars’ defensive ends weren’t getting after the quarterback at an elite level on an individual basis. Of the team’s four regular DEs, only Chris Clemons had more than 17 total QB pressures, and Clemons, Red Bryant, and Tyson Alualu all received pass-rushing grades that were well below average. Additionally, no team heads into the offseason with more cap room than the Jags, who have the flexibility to splash around in free agency if they so choose.
Although Orakpo wasn’t playing all that well before he landed on injured reserve last season, he has averaged nearly 10 sacks per year when he’s been healthy, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does in a free agent market where two of the top two pass rushers – Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul – have been franchised.