Daron Payne - Commanders DT
Keeping Daron Payne around was a high-level priority for the Washington Commanders during the offseason. The formidable defensive tackle was placed under the franchise tag to prevent him from speaking with other teams. This was swiftly followed by a mammoth four-year, $90 million contract extension that also came with a $28 million signing bonus and $59.01 million guaranteed.
Payne's exceptional 2022 form came at the best possible time. Unfortunately for the player and Washington, things have regressed considerably this time around.
The former first-round pick out of Alabama looks devoid of the explosiveness and game-wrecking traits that took the league by storm last season. Payne is finding life difficult creating pressure, struggling to hold down the fort on running downs, and just looking forlorn overall when most were expecting him to take another leap forward.
Could the motivation not be where it once was due to being paid? That's a little harsh, but there is a need for Payne to re-establish himself as a defensive alpha over Washington's final four games of the 2023 season.
Payne will be around in 2024 regardless of how he performs down the stretch. There isn't a legitimate out on his contract until 2025, so performing well and demonstrating the qualities that got him such a big-money deal is essential.