In a non-surprising turn of events, The Athletic reported that the Washington Commanders intend to use the franchise tag on star DT Daron Payne.
Payne is coming off the best season of his career, combining for 64 tackles and logging 11.5 sacks, and he’s just 25 years old.
The Commanders are expected to use the franchise tag on free-agent DT Daron Payne, two people with direct knowledge of the situation told @BenStandig.
Payne was named to the Pro Bowl after a career-best 11.5 sacks and 64 combined tackles last season.https://t.co/8qB4pPIUwA
— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) February 22, 2023
Needless to say, there would be no shortage of suitors for their defensive superstar, so they couldn’t even afford to let him entertain the thought of entering free agency.
With that decision, he’s expected to make nearly $19 million next season, just short of the projected $20 million per year he would get on his next deal.
The Commanders have enough cap space on their books to work out a potential extension with him.
However, that seems complicated right now, as they have already paid Jonathan Allen and both Chase Young and Montez Sweat will be eligible for contract extensions next season.
Also, the Commanders might not be interested in spending big for the long-term future right now.
Controversial team owner Dan Snyder is reportedly exploring selling the franchise, and they might not have all that much confidence in Ron Rivera after three losing seasons.
Still, they need to keep Payne around for at least another season, as they wouldn’t get a compensatory pick for him until 2024.
There’s also a chance they trade him under the franchise tag, with multiple teams willing to pay more than enough for one of the rising stars in the league, but that might not happen until midway through the season.NEXT: A Commanders Assistant Coach Is Reportedly Leaving The Team