Orakpo today was a guest on “This Week @ The Park,” and talked about how signing his one-year deal was important not only to him, but to the rest of the team going forward.
“I see the future of this organization is very bright and I want to be a part of it,” the University of Texas product said. “I just hate distractions, you know? I hate distractions and the whole mess that goes with contracts and just the business aspect of the whole football thing.”
Orakpo – who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 257 pounds – returns to Washington after leading the team in sacks for the fourth time in his five-year career. Last season, the outside linebacker came back from an injury-plagued 2012 season to collect 70 tackles (47 solo) with 10 sacks.
He also had his first interception of his career Week 7 against the Chicago Bears at FedExField, picking off a bobbled pass and returning it 29 yards for his first-career touchdown.
Orakpo was rewarded with his third selection to the Pro Bowl roster, where his Team Jerry Rice squad defeated Team Deion Sanders, 22-21.
Orakpo said he was particularly excited to return to the Redskins for the 2014 season because – under a new head coach in Jay Gruden, but the same defensive coordinator in Jim Haslett – he and fellow outside linebacker
The Redskins also recently signed free agent defensive end
“Now with our new philosophy and the way we are going to approach defense this year and our attacking style, you are going to have to pick and choose,” Orakpo said. “You are going to see a tweaked game from myself, you’re going to see a tweaked game from Ryan to try and incorporate what we are doing up front to make it a lot easier on the back-end and on the defense as a whole.”
Speaking to the media Wednesday at the NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL Annual Meetings in Orlando, Gruden said the team has “high hopes” for Orakpo, a player whose contract the first-year head coach said would certainly be revisited by next offseason.
“I wouldn't mind letting him play out this franchise tag and see what happens,” Gruden said, via ESPN.com’s John Keim. “He's a talented player. I think he can do a little better. We can ask more of him to where he could be more productive … and whether the deal gets done or not, we know he'll be a big part of our success.”
For now, Orakpo is just fine with that strategy. He just wants to get with his teammates in a couple weeks and start the journey back, he hopes, to the playoffs.“I don’t care how much money people are making, everybody has got to come in here and work,” Orakpo said. “Everybody has different characteristics and different personalities, but I’m all about work and trying to get better. So, no pressure at all, we just have to do better than what we did last year.”