Man! Initial fan reaction to news that the Redskins placed a franchise tag on OLB Brian Orakpo made it sound like the team already blew the 2014 season.
Slow down there, cowboy.
This is how it works.
Tagging Orakpo gives everyone the chance to take a breath.
We haven't spent the cap yet. ("We" because fans feel an ownership stake in the salary cap like the Redskins do. Our team. Our money)
Rak's agent can put feelers to other teams to get a sense of his real market value, you know, if those inconvenient first-round trade requirements weren't in the way.
For these whispered conversations, Orakpo's agent and team front offices can pretend they are not in place. Heck, it's lying season anyway. Until deals are committed to paper ready for signature, everyone is a lying liar who lies.
It's how we get at the truth in the NFL.
We've seen it before.
The Redskins did not initially re-sign London Fletcher after the 2011 season. He wanted more in his final NFL deal than the 'Skins were willing to pay. They let him test the market as an aging free agent. Only then did they signed him to a two-year deal in 2012.
His pay and cap hit was (barely) in reasonable balance to his 2012 performance, but way over-priced for 2013.
But I was OK with it. London Fletcher is the greatest free agent signing of the Snyder era, if not all Redskins' history. I liked when Mike Shanahan said that he had too much respect to Fletch to ask him to take a pay cut in 2013. It showed that coach had a heart, somewhere, deep inside.
After all he has done, I liked that they let Fletch go out under his own time and terms. It was better than Joe Gibbs treated Art Monk at the end.
Gibbs made the correct decision about Monk, but it felt so wrong. Shanny made the wrong decision about Fletcher in 2013. It's part of the reason the defense sucked. But it was the right thing to do.
The Redskins did the same with DeAngelo Hall. He was a cap casualty after the 2012 season. He shopped the market. he returned for a reasonably priced $2.25 million one-year deal; "reasonably" meaning his contract was in balance with his performance.
We have our doubts about the four-year, $17 million deal the Redskins gave Hall last month. At least he played his way into that deal, which is a lot less per year than the $8 million the Redskins would have owned him in last year.
Brian Orakpo will be a Redskin this season. His contract will be in balance with his likely performance in the Jim Haslett defense. His sweet guaranteed money will be a multiple of his one-year franchise salary.
We just have to let this play out.
Unless a team is willing to part with two first round Draft picks for Orakpo.
If that happens, he's gone.