4 critical observations from Commanders HC Ron Rivera’s combine presser

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Ron Rivera
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Ron Rivera /
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Daron Payne /

Commanders get serious with Daron Payne

The Washington Commanders made their intentions regarding Daron Payne‘s future known in the early hours of Tuesday morning. He officially became the first NFL player to be franchise tagged this offseason, which is set to cost the organization around $18.93 million in 2023.

This was something that Ron Rivera clearly wanted to get sorted quickly. If nothing else, the head coach laid out how serious the Commanders are about looking after their own and getting a long-term deal secured before the franchise deadline.

"“The guy’s been very integral to the development of this football team and this defense as well as the other guys he plays alongside. We just wanted to make sure everybody understood that we are serious.”"

Payne came of age last season en route to 11.5 sacks and his first-ever Pro Bowl appearance. Allocating the franchise tag gives Washington additional time to work out a contract, which is something the team could afford with bundles of salary-cap space in 2024.

The former first-round pick would have cost a lot less had the Commanders tied him down last year. Even if not many envisaged such a monumental leap forward entering Year 5 of his professional career.

Good teams don’t let their top stars walk. Rivera knows that better than anybody, so Payne returning on the franchise tag will give everyone associated with the Commanders a massive lift.

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