4 Commanders players that cannot afford to get complacent in 2023

Daron Payne
Daron Payne / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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Daron Payne - Commanders DT

Daron Payne was highly motivated to make the Washington Commanders pay - literally - for not having enough faith to trigger his fifth-year option before the 2022 campaign. While many believed it was the right decision after an indifferent first three years with the team, his monumental surge forward last season meant Ron Rivera was probably left with a sense of regret.

Payne was a dominating figure rushing from the interior. He became a constant menace for opposing quarterbacks, notching 11.5 sacks and earning a first Pro Bowl selection thanks to some exceptional progress.

This left the Commanders with no option other than to reward Payne as promised. The defensive tackle got a four-year, $90 million contract with $59 million guaranteed, which was probably used as a benchmark for the whopping extension Quinnen Williams recently received from the New York Jets.

One doesn't have to look far throughout NFL history to see how players can switch off and regress once they get paid. Having an added sense of financial security might dim the fire within somewhat, but that won't be the case with someone like Payne based on the encouraging progress he's displayed to date.

If the former first-round pick out of Alabama avoids any semblance of complacency and improves against the run, he'll thrive. Something that will give Washington the league's best defensive tackle tandem with Jonathan Allen.