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2015 NFL free agency: Brian Orakpo and his injury history set to test market

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While signs point to the Steelers looking more to retain Jason Worilds and/or Arthur Moats, Washington's Orakpo makes for an interesting prospect.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Long gone are the Progressive commercials for soon-to-be-former Washington outside linebacker Brian Orakpo.

The 13th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Orakpo was a hot commodity his first three years in the league. He registered 28.5 sacks from 2009-11, and looked to become one of the more dominant pass rushers in the NFL.

Since then, he's battled through three pectoral tears, the most recent costing him more than half of the 2014 season. He played last year under the team's franchise tag, and likely will hit the open market when free agency begins March 10.

The Steelers, a team in need of pass rushing help both now and in the future, are likely to at least offer pending free agent Jason Worilds a contract. Another pending free agent, Arthur Moats, likely will be a target as well. A reclamation project for the oft-injured Orakpo may not be a terrible idea if plans go south for either of the aforementioned options.

Injuries cost many great players much of their careers. Orakpo's injury history is more than enough leverage for any team to give him a light valuation. An expected counter move for Orakpo would be to take a short-length deal relatively high in dollars but without any guarantees - essentially another Prove It season like he had in 2014 under the franchise tag.

Defense in the NFL today is largely defined by the pass rush, and he's shown he's capable of getting after the quarterback. The Steelers have few players capable of achieving that, and adding another weapon to a mediocre defense can't be considered foolish.

Expect the Steelers to do what they can to get Worilds signed to a multiyear deal, and it wouldn't be a shock to see them eventually address the position in the draft. But Orakpo - stronger against the run than current right outside linebacker Jarvis Jones - may not be a bad rotational player.