5 realistic goals for the Washington Commanders in 2023 free agency

(Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports) Ron Rivera
(Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports) Ron Rivera /
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(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) Daron Payne /

Commanders must extend Daron Payne long-term

The Washington Commanders made a smart move by placing the franchise tag on Daron Payne. This gives them a little extra time to work out a long-term deal and prevents the formidable defensive tackle from testing the market, where he was expected to generate significant interest following a breakout campaign in 2022.

Not extending Payne with one year remaining on his deal is going to cost the Commanders much more. His 11.5 sacks and constant disruption from the interior left a huge impression – something that’s going to make the former first-round pick a rich man for good measure.

Payne’s franchise tag cap hit stands at $18.93 million in 2023. But in an ideal world, the Commanders would look to tie him down way beyond that to avoid further complications down the line.

This sentiment was echoed by head coach Ron Rivera, who made no secret of his intention to let the entire league know how serious the Commanders were about securing a long-term extension with Payne before the 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.”"

This is a good environment for Payne in a scheme that suits his athletic traits. So it would be a major disappointment if some common ground wasn’t reached in the coming weeks.