Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins working on extension

Now that Brian Orakpo has defected to Nashville, the Washington Redskins are rebuilding their defense with two-time Pro Bowl selection Ryan Kerrigan as the centerpiece.

The Redskins have opened negotiations with Kerrigan, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

"It'll happen as it happens, but of course it's in the back of your mind because it's a big deal," Kerrigan said Monday, per Mike Jones of the Washington Post. "... Hopefully we get that done. It'd be a great vote of confidence from the organization."

General manager Scot McCloughan expressed optimism Monday, per Jones, that an agreement will be reached.

Kerrigan, 26, is coming off a career high in sacks (13.5) while finishing behind only Justin Houston in quarterback hurries (51) among 3-4 outside linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus.

He should be targeting a deal in the range of the five-year, $45 million contract signed by Bills' edge rusher Jerry Hughes in early March.

Taking on a leadership role, Kerrigan now views himself as the "elder statesman" in the linebackers room.

A long-term commitment would suggest new defensive coordinator Joe Barry shares the same vision.

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