February 28 update: The Commanders placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Daron Payne. If another team signs him, they would need to give up two first-round picks in the process.
Daron Payne is coming off a season that saw his first Pro Bowl appearance and a new career-high sack total with 11.5 through the regular season. At the end of February, the Commanders announced they’d be placing a franchise tag on the 25-year-old defensive tackle, keeping him out of free agency and extending the window for Washington to get a long-term deal done.
2023 in review
Payne logged a career high 64 tackles and 11.5 sacks in his fifth season in the league, garnering an impressive 87 percent of snaps throughout this last campaign. He also totaled 18 tackles for loss and 20 quarterback hits through all 17 games in the regular season.
Payne’s rookie contract was worth $14.4 million over four years, while Washington opted to pick up his option for a fifth season, paying out roughly $8.5 million for the 2022 season. Now carrying the franchise tag, he’ll be guaranteed around $18.9 million for 2023.
Do the Commanders want to keep him?
Given that they’ve already placed a franchise tag on him, the Commanders are obviously looking to keep Payne around as they look to get a long-term deal done before the July 15 deadline.
There has been some rumored interest from other teams, particularly the Atlanta Falcons, who had rumored plans to pursue Payne during free agency. Since that’s off the table at this point, they’ll be looking elsewhere for an interior defender to shore up their defensive line.