Over the past few seasons, the Dallas Cowboys haven't flirted with pricey free agent acquisitions. Instead, they take the approach of finding guys that may be a little down on their luck and offer them a chance. With large decisions looming on offense, the Cowboys will have limited resources to use on the defensive side. However, Will McClay has done an excellent job at getting pieces for Marinelli to work with.
We know the Cowboys have struggled to get opposing quarterbacks to the ground, this season was especially troublesome with only 28 sacks. Dallas must find somebody that can come in and make an immediate impact. Brian Orakpo could be that somebody.
Though Orakpo is a "big-name free agent", injuries in the past few seasons have left the Redskins with doubt that he'll ever be what they hoped. As the old adage goes: "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Orakpo certainly has the look of a guy that will be betting on himself in 2015.
Brian Orakpo was taken 13th overall in the 2009 Draft. Most of us Cowboy fans like to forget that draft for obvious reasons. His rookie season was solid by PFF standards. Orakpo started all 16 games and was able to record 12 sacks. Orakpo would also earn a Pro Bowl spot as a reserve.
The following season wasn't as impressive with only 56 tackles and 8.5 sacks. Yet, Orakpo still managed to make a second consecutive Pro Bowl after replacing Clay Matthews. Orakpo would follow that year up with another solid double-digit sack and three forced fumbles performance. Things would soon go south in 2012 when it was announced that after only two games, Orakpo had torn his left pectoral that he injured the season prior.
Orakpo would return in 2013 to old form, recording his first defensive touchdown off Jay Cutler. He also recorded 11 sacks that season and would be named to his third Pro Bowl after replacing Ahmad Brooks. In the offseason, the Redskins would decline offering Brian an extension and instead used a non-exclusive franchise tag. Orakpo played in only seven games before tearing his right pectoral muscle and being placed on injured reserve.
It seems unlikely that Washington will bring him back in 2015. I wouldn't expect the market to be very high for his services either, which makes him a perfect candidate for Dallas. His injury history is a concern being that he's torn his left pectoral twice and his right pectoral once. With that said, I would expect a low-risk deal similar to what was given to Henry Melton could suffice.
Though Orakpo has spent his NFL career in a 3-4, he did play defensive end in college. The transition should not be terribly difficult. The Cowboys have also been rumored to be pretty high on his level of play. Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas shared his thoughts on the matter:
Brian Orakpo is intriguing. I know the Cowboys have a lot of respect for him and how hard he plays. They really think a lot of Ryan Kerrigan, too, speaking of Washington pass rushers. Orakpo has had three pectoral tears that have cost him games. That’s a red flag for sure. But if the money is low, then I can see that happening, but if I had an either/or I’d vote for Spencer returning.
If the above notion is true, which there is no reason to expect it not to be, Orakpo could be a fit for Marinelli's rotation of rush-men. The Dallas Cowboys could use all the boost they can get, why not see if the Texas native would like to return home?