TUESDAY, 3:02pm: Orakpo has officially been placed on IR by Washington, with the team signing outside linebacker Everette Brown to replace him. Brown spent the preseason with the club but was cut at the end of August.
MONDAY, 11:41am: Brian Orakpo‘s contract year has come to an early end, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who reports (via Twitter) that the Washington linebacker suffered a torn pectoral muscle. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com initially reported that the team feared Orakpo would be lost for the season, and points out that the linebacker previously tore his left pectoral muscle — this time, it’s his right one (Twitter links).
After notching 10 sacks a year ago, Orakpo was off to a much slower start in 2014, having only picked up 0.5 sacks through the season’s first seven weeks. However, according to Pro Football Focus’ data (subscription required), Orakpo had totaled 18 combined quarterback hits and hurries, and had played well against the run, grading as the 11th-best 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Because he’d been playing on the franchise tag, Orakpo will be eligible for free agency in March, and it’s fair to wonder if he has played his last game in Washington. Fellow starting outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan is having a big year, having already racked up 6.5 sacks, and rookie Trent Murphy has played well when he’s seen the field as well. With Kerrigan potentially still a year away from a big payday and Murphy on an inexpensive rookie deal, the team may pass on Orakpo, using that cap space elsewhere after committing $11MM+ to him for this season.
When Orakpo is officially placed on injured reserve this week, Washington will have the opportunity to add another player using the newly-opened spot on the 53-man roster.