Eagles Wake-Up Call: What About Orakpo?

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The Eagles need to improve their pass rush and Brian Orakpo is largely considered the top outside linebacker on the free-agent market, so we figured we would take a closer look to see if this is a potential fit.

Why it works

Orakpo (6-4, 257 pounds) is 27 years old, which falls within  Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman‘s preferred age range.  They want to bring in players who can not only contribute now but also be a part of the core moving forward, and Orakpo seemingly fits the bill. After dealing with a pec injury that cost him most of 2012, he played in 15 games this past season and finished with 10 sacks, nine stuffs, two fumble recoveries and 29 hurries. He was named to his third Pro Bowl.

He dropped into coverage 13 percent of the time this year and did a decent job, according to Washington Post Redskins beat reporter Mike Jones, and came up with his first career interception. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett started blitzing him more down the stretch. Seven of his 10 sacks came in Washington’s final seven games.

Orakpo plays right outside linebacker — the same side as Trent Cole. With 39.5 sacks over his five-year career, Orakpo could provide an immediate boost to the pass rush.

Why it doesn’t

The Eagles are more inclined to go after several mid-level targets as opposed to chasing the big ticket free agents. Orakpo is perhaps the top outside linebacker on the market and won’t be cheap. As a frame of reference, Paul Kruger signed a five-year, 40.5 million contract ($20 million guaranteed) with the Browns last offseason.

At the Senior Bowl this week, Haslett called re-signing Orakpo a priority. Orakpo says that he wants to return to Washington.

“They haven’t started negotiations, but he says he wants to be back here,” said Jones. “They would probably like to work something out long-term. [The franchise tag] is probably an option but they haven’t used it much.”

As Jones points out Washington does not have a first-round pick in the 2014 draft (their No. 2 overall selection is going to the Rams as part of the RGIII deal), so they don’t have the option of going after a pass-rusher early on to try and replace Orakpo’s production. Their best course of action is to keep the Texas product.

Analysis

The Eagles would probably be reluctant to spend the kind of money Orakpo will command on one player, and Washington sounds like it is intent on bringing him back. A partnership seems unlikely, in other words, but we’ll see how things develop as we get closer to the start of free agency.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The Eagles need to make a call on Jason Avant soon.

A couple recent mock drafts have safety Calvin Pryor going to the Eagles at 22. 

In Sheil’s latest Senior Bowl diary, he takes a look at one outside linebacker that could be a fit.

Roseman is looking for players that won’t rock the boat because he don’t want his boat to be rockin’.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jimmy Kempski on one safety that caught his eye at the Senior Bowl.

Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward has been impressive this week, but a big knock on him will be his size, at 5’10, 191. However, Ward could be an interesting fit for the Eagles because of his ability to play the slot. This past season, the Eagles showed that they liked to stay in their base 3-4 at times against 3 WR sets, and drop their safety down to cover the slot receiver. This resulted in Patrick Chung getting a thorough toasting. Ward is a player who could do that, but probably needs to bulk up a bit to stay at safety in the NFL.

Phil Sheridan on the recent news that Chris Polk had shoulder surgery, and the level of injury secrecy under Kelly.

If that’s the case with Polk, it raises questions about other players. Safety Patrick Chung became the player fans loved to hate for his missed tackles and perceived blown coverages. But Chung “had a shoulder” after the Week 3 loss to Kansas City. He missed two games and then tried to come back too soon, leaving the Tampa Bay game after just 12 defensive snaps…

Was Chung a free-agent bust who lost his job to a fifth-round pick? Or was Chung a veteran gutting out and playing hurt because the team was desperately thin at safety?

Injury deception affects perception…

Kelly is a long way from being the first coach to keep injury information as limited as possible. Maybe it provides some competitive advantage. But that secrecy can also be a disservice to the players themselves.

COMING UP

The offseason conversation rolls on.

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