After two straight wins, the Washington Commanders are suddenly a half-game out of the final wild card spot in the NFC. The only downside? There’s currently four other teams — the 49ers, Falcons, Packers and Cardinals — who own a 3-4 record. Nine wins might be enough to get the job done this year, but if the first seven weeks are any indication the standings are going to be crowded right until the end.
With the Commanders surging at the right time, the front office likely isn’t considering selling players who don’t want out. Trades have been rare during Rivera’s tenure and a fire sale is out of the equation after Sunday’s win over the Packers, but wouldn’t it make sense to offload players who likely won’t be back in 2023?
Why keep them around and risk losing them for nothing via free agency or even worse, swallowing dead money by making them a cap casualty?
A loss to Indianapolis in Week 8 changes the complexion of the trade deadline for Washington, so let’s take a look at some players the Commanders will most likely entertain selling between now and the fast-approaching Nov. 1 cutoff.
That’s not to say we’d agree with jettisoning these players, but they’d likely garner the most interest in a buyer-friendly market.
The Commanders could sell these players at the trade deadline
3. Daron Payne
Payne is a player I’d hold on to (and try to extend), but you can guarantee he’s generating interest around the league. What team wouldn’t want him? The former first-round pick is in the best form of his career and would be a no-brainer extension candidate for any team that hasn’t already invested top-dollar on its interior defensive line.
That’s the kicker with Payne: Jon Allen’s extension.
Last week, Ron Rivera said “I’d like to think so,” when he was asked about Payne having a long-term future in Washington. The head coach champions the value of interior linemen more than most, but it’s notable that Montez Sweat has overcome his slow start and been playing out of his skin over the last month.
It’s impossible for the Commanders to pay all four of their defensive linemen top dollar and Sweat and Chase Young are extension-eligible over the next two offseasons. Edge rusher is viewed as a premier position and the idea of having two stud DEs is a luxury very few teams have.
Another thing that must be considered is the consistency, or lack thereof, that Sweat has displayed in his career. Payne’s been markedly more consistent and durable and probably deserves an extension more based on merit.
If a team is willing to over pay for Payne (maybe a second- and fourth-round pick) at the deadline, Washington has to consider it. If they don’t, they run the risk of losing him for nothing in free agency or going down the franchise tag rabbit hole, and no fan wants that after what happened with Brandon Scherff.