Brian Orakpo

The Washington Redskins didn’t use the franchise tag on Brian Orakpo for a second straight season, allowing the linebacker to hit the open free agency market,where he’ll find that the Atlanta Falcons are very interested in signing him.

The Falcons had set their sights on the veteran pass rusher last season, but the Redskins used the tag on him, keeping him for one more season, paying him $11.5 million. Using the franchise tag again creates a huge salary bump and the sides couldn’t come to terms, which means that the 28 year old is going to get a lot of interest from quite a few teams around the league.

The Falcons seem to be heading to the top of that list. They have money to spend (around $30 million under the cap) and have severe defensive problems. Orakpo, like the whole Redskins organization, didn’t have a very good 2014, playing in just 7 games and finishing with just 0.5 sacks. He missed almost all of the 2012 season as well, which means that injury concerns could hurt his efforts to securing a lot of money on his next deal.

That injury might put Orakpo a little bit lower on some team’s lists, with guys like Stephen McPhee of the Baltimore Ravens, Adrian Clayborn from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and O’Brien Schofield of the Seattle Seahawks.

Orakpo has been in the league since 2009, all of them with the Redskins. A first round pick out of Texas, he has 40 sacks in 71 games, playing as one of the outside linebackers in the 3-4 system.

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