4 free agents in Super Bowl 57 the Commanders must target in 2023

(Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) James Bradberry
(Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) James Bradberry /
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(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports) Khalen Saunders /

Commanders must target Khalen Saunders

The Washington Commanders have a big decision to make with Daron Payne this off-season. His outstanding campaign in the final year of his deal was impressive, but it puts the front office in a bind considering the money he’ll now command on his next deal.

Payne’s 11.5 sacks last season represented a significant step in the right direction. His consistency against the run still needs work, but the former first-round pick finally looks like he can become the dominant anchor Washington hoped for when they selected the prospect No. 13 overall out of Alabama.

According to Spotrac, Payne is set to command an annual salary of almost $20 million per season. Not exactly chump change, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Commanders decide to offer him this sort of package or go in a different direction.

There is hope Phidarian Mathis can overcome a luckless rookie campaign and make a bigger splash. One cannot ignore the presence of Jonathan Allen on the defensive front and the potential for Chase Young to finally start reaching lofty expectations.

If Payne does depart, the Commanders need another solid defensive lineman capable of solid production on the rotation. Khalen Saunders might not have elite traits, but he does the little things well, stepping in at a moment’s notice and making his presence felt for the Kansas City Chiefs.