The 2014 NFL Free Agency class is getting smaller and smaller as March 11 nears and players are set to hit the open market. With so many teams opting to wisely franchise tag their top (or only) key unrestricted free agent priorities the pool of players that will be UFA’s next week gets smaller and smaller by the day.
Now one of the top remaining free agent linebackers is set to come off the UFA board as the Washington R*dskins seem set to franchise tag Brian Orakpo if the two sides can’t reach a deal by the franchise tag deadline as a negotiation tactic and an attempt to keep their veteran leader in the nation’s capital for at least another season.
Redskins trying to sign Brian Orakpo to multi-year deal but prepared to use franchise tag if not done by 4pm deadline, source says
— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) March 3, 2014
This comes as no surprise as the majority of elite players with expiring contracts have been slapped with the tag so far or have simply inked new long term deals. At the moment secondary talents Sam Shields, Alterraun Verner, and Jairus Byrd are looking likely to explore free agency, but there is a dearth of top talent at most positions in free agency with so many enticing options failing to hit the open market. Orakpo was a player that would have surely been on the Raiders radar so his absence from the list means one less player that Reggie McKenzie can target with his wealth of cap space come March 11.
It will be interesting to see how Orakpo’s tagging/new deal, if one gets done, changes the free agency landscape in Oakland. With less players on the market and top FA’s Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer still looking for new deals with the Raiders it is likely that the front office should have more interest in getting things done with both players before hitting the open market as their talent could be seeing an increase in value with less and less quality talent available. With less talent out there it is possible that players like Orakpo leaving the open market could convince McKenzie to hammer out deals with his expiring players early this week.