Franchise tag not an option for Redskins, but could be in 2016

The question was debated until the time it was done and the Washington Redskins had made their decision: They would use the franchise tag on Brian Orakpo. They would buy themselves a year to see if it was worth paying him a hefty price. Turns out it wasn't: Orakpo received $11.46 million, but only played in seven games, delivered half a sack and no game-changing plays that coach Jay Gruden wanted to see.

And now we're back at that same point: Orakpo is a free agent; the Redskins have the franchise tag. But there's no way it's a debate this year. Orakpo is coming off his third major arm injury and isn't in a position to warrant that kind of money.

Nobody else is, either. But next year will be one to watch because the Redskins have a couple interesting players who, as of now, would be free agents:

Left tackle Trent Williams. The smart move would be to extend him this offseason, especially if they can lower his $13.73 million cap hit for 2015. Williams is a three-time Pro Bowler, though he does have flaws. He will give up pressures and sacks, but he also does things few tackles can do because of his athleticism. And Williams will play hurt, which he did this past season. It impacts his performance, but even at 80 percent he's their best option at the position. The projected tag number for an offensive lineman this offseason is $12.92 million.

Running back Alfred Morris. He, too, is in the last year of his contract, but using the franchise tag on a running back? They'd better be special. Morris has been good, but special? Here's another way to view it: The franchise tag for a running back this offseason will be $10.93 million. Even the transition tag would be at least $9 million. Should Morris receive that sort of raise? No. A good one? Sure.

Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. Another player worth extending this offseason after a 13.5 sack season with an NFL-best five forced fumbles. If he isn't signed before this point in 2016, would you pay him perhaps two million more than they gave Orakpo this past season? That's about what it'll cost. But if Kerrigan has another season like the one he just did, he'll be in line for a big raise regardless. He counts $7.038 million against the cap in 2015.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III OK, the past two years have not gone the way he or the Redskins have wanted. And right now, it's a leap of faith to think he'd be a candidate for such a raise. But: What if? What if the Redskins don't offer the fifth-year extension by May 3, leaving him a free agent after 2015? And what if everything clicks and he has a terrific season? Then they'd have no choice but to offer him big bucks and, sure, the franchise tag is an option (it would cost approximately $18.5 million this year). The Redskins and Griffin need to have a special season for this to be a discussion. But if he has that sort of year, owner Dan Snyder would gladly pony up whatever he could to get a contract done.