Brian Orakpo's strong finish could result in a hefty contract this offseason. Turns out it also will result in a trip to Hawaii.
Orakpo was named to the Pro Bowl team as a replacement for San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who pulled out of the game Tuesday. The 49ers had eight players chosen for the Pro Bowl this season, but none of them will play in Sunday's game. The 49ers lost to Seattle in the NFC Championship Game this past weekend.
But that's beneficial to Orakpo, who will play in this game for the third time in his first five seasons and his first since 2010. Orakpo missed all but two games in 2012 because of a torn pectoral muscle and he admitted it impacted his play in 2013. Orakpo said it took him a while to trust his arm (he had torn his pectoral muscle at the end of the 2011 season as well). Though the coaches were pleased with his play, his sack total was down for the first half of the season with four in the first eight games. But he recorded six sacks in the next seven games and finished with 10 overall. It marked the second time in his career that he finished in double digits; he had 11 as a rookie in 2009 en route to a Pro Bowl berth.
Orakpo will be a free agent in March, but needs to be a priority for the Redskins to re-sign. The coaches like how he's developed in other areas as a 3-4 linebacker, but they also lack a strong option should he leave. Rob Jackson also is a free agent, but even if the Redskins re-sign him, he's not viewed the same as Orakpo in terms of his all-around game. And in the 3-4 played by Washington, the outside linebackers must do more than just rush the passer. But having a strong pass-rusher at both outside linebacker spots is imperative. With Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, they have two linebackers considered to be good pass-rushers.