Daron Payne's disappointing Commanders season
Not many players on the Washington Commanders are covering themselves in glory this season. Their record doesn't lie and there seems to be a complete lack of motivation within the locker room to further complicate matters.
It's hard to work knowing landmark changes are on the immediate horizon. That said, the Commanders need to show some self-pride down the stretch to ensure head coach Ron Rivera has the dignity of ending his four-year tenure on a positive note.
Bryan Manning of USA Today Sports highlighted seven Commanders players who've disappointed this season. Among those was defensive tackle Daron Payne, who's regressed considerably after receiving a lucrative contract extension to prevent him from leaving in free agency.
"[Daron] Payne landed a massive deal in the offseason after a career year in 2022. His numbers are down across the board from a season ago. Is this a concern or a result of Washington’s overall defensive struggles? It’s almost certain Payne will be in Washington next season, and his contract makes him a player to build around. It’s fair for some to wonder if Payne’s terrific 2022 campaign was because he was playing for a contract. But in fairness to Payne, he trains hard and never misses practice or the games. Washington should chalk this up to a bad season and count on Payne for 2024."- Bryan Manning, USA Today Sports
Was Payne's outstanding 2022 form largely down to his contract status? Time will tell on that front, but huge improvements are needed from the former first-round pick out of Alabama as the Commanders look for a solid return on their substantial investment.