We certainly have evidence from the 2012 Washington Redskins season that this team isn't at its best without dual edge rushers wreaking havoc at the two outside linebacker positions.
I mean, kudos to Rob Jackson for stepping up and playing well in Brian Orakpo's absence, but Orakpo is already one of the league's most dangerous sack artists and was impossible to properly replace after going down with a torn pectoral muscle two weeks into the year.
With Orakpo, second-year Purdue product Ryan Kerrigan disappeared often and had a fairly disappointing NFL encore after tearing it up as a rookie.
Naturally, that has many anxious to see Orakpo sign a long-term contract before he returns to the field for what would be the final year of his rookie deal in 2013. But while I understand that sense of urgency, I'm not sure it would be prudent for the 'Skins to rush into a deal with Orakpo this offseason.
Keep in mind that the team has limited funds in the first place. An $18 million sanction imposed by the NFL has tied the franchise's hands this year, just as it did a year ago. With Orakpo only scheduled to make $3.6 million in 2013, there's a very good chance that any deal he signs this offseason will cost the 'Skins money in the short term.
And even if they do backload the contract in order to save some cash in the upcoming season, I can't imagine it'll be enough to rationalize a long-term investment in a player who has now torn parts of the same pectoral muscle twice in less than a year.
Let Orakpo prove that he is fully recovered, and that he can make it through a full season. With the franchise tag available and more money on the table next offseason, the 'Skins can afford to risk it.
If he struggles to stay healthy, you get a discount or move on. If he gets back on track and becomes an elite pass-rusher again, you pay up or slap him with the tag and consider your options.