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Brian Orakpo, Redskins begin contract talks, GM says

The Washington Redskins can ill afford to lose star pass rusher Brian Orakpo, and general manager Bruce Allen knows it.

Allen revealed Tuesday that the 'Skins have engaged in contract talks with Orakpo's agent, as well as representatives for impending free agents DeAngelo Hall and Perry Riley, per The Washington Times.

Orakpo's rookie deal is set to expire, and he would be one of the best players on the market if the Redskins let him go. (Orakpo was ranked No. 3 in ATL's list of top 2014 free agents.) Orakpo qualified for his third Pro Bowl in 2013, recording 10 sacks and a pick six. He and bookend Ryan Kerrigan form one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL, a strength for the porous Redskins defense.

Pass rushers like Clay Matthews, DeMarcus Ware and Tamba Hali all top the $11 million mark in average salary per year, and that's the kind of money Orakpo likely will seek. If the Redskins can't agree with him on a new deal, the franchise tag is an option.

Retaining the services of Hall and Riley also is a priority. 

Hall was resurgent in 2013 and with the struggling Josh Wilson set to be a free agent, keeping Hall is important. The veteran cornerback scored three defensive touchdowns, recorded four interceptions and added a career-high four forced fumbles last season.

Riley has been a durable inside linebacker for the Redskins since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, starting in all 16 games over the past two seasons. Now that London Fletcher has retired, the team will have to find at least one new starter in the middle, and Riley would represent some stability in Jim Haslett's 3-4 defense.

With 19 players set to hit free agency, Jay Gruden will be searching for several new starters. Fortunately for the first-year head coach, the Redskins finally will have some salary-cap room with the expiration of the NFL-imposed $36 million penalty.

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