3 easiest salary cap decisions the Commanders can make in 2023

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) Jonathan Allen
(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) Jonathan Allen /
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Daron Payne /

Commanders could franchise tag Daron Payne

  • Cost – $18.93 million

Of all the free agents upcoming for the Washington Commanders, none is more important than Daron Payne. The defensive lineman came of age in 2022 en route to some career numbers, which puts the organization in a difficult spot with the player out of contract and looking for a lucrative extension.

As stated previously, the Commanders can give themselves plenty to spend providing the necessary sacrifices are made. Based on Payne’s production last season, it will take a good chunk of change to keep him around.

Payne demonstrated elite pass-rushing abilities from the interior en route to 11.5 sacks. While there is still some work to do on running downs, this was a confidence-building campaign from the former Alabama star at a crucial stage of his career.

Ron Rivera stated that the Commanders have reached out to Payne’s representatives in the pursuit of working out a deal. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, then Washington can utilize the franchise tag to prevent the lineman from hitting the market.

This is costly at $18.93 million, but it keeps Payne around and gives the Commanders extra time to work out an extension. But with the presence of Phidarian Mathis returning from injury, a scenario could emerge where Washington and the No. 13 overall selection in 2018 go their separate ways.