Ben Standig published his pre-draft notebook this morning and it was a must-read for Washington Commanders fans. Along with speculation on the top 10 of this year’s draft, and who could be available for Washington, came some interesting news on DT Daron Payne.
The Commanders are not expected to offer Payne a contract extension, multiple sources tell The Athletic, meaning the 2018 first-round pick and four-year starter would potentially play out the final year of his rookie contract and enter free agency in 2023.
There has been speculation that Washington might look to trade Daron Payne for a variety of reasons. The parade of 1st round picks that has been used to beef up the defensive line meant they would face a dilemma down the line. If everyone is good, everyone needs to get paid, and that means not everyone will get paid unless the team has a perfect run in free agency and the draft to continuously reup on cheap, talented players everywhere else. That hasn’t happened and now it appears Payne is the next odd man out.
Washington’s defensive line depth was depleted last month after Tim Settle left in free agency to sign with the Buffalo Bills and Matt Ioannidis became a cap casualty after the Carson Wentz trade. A lot of fans wanted the team to attempt to trade Payne, while re-signing Settle. That didn’t happen and now Washington enters the draft with defensive line as bigger long-term need. They exercised Payne’s 5th year option last year and he will make $8.5 million this season.
Jonathan Allen got his big contract extension last July, a 4-year, $72 million deal that keeps him in Washington through 2025. He had his best season with the team, posting career-high sack and QB hit numbers, while also getting his first Pro Bowl nod. Chase Young and Montez Sweat both had down seasons that included injuries, but are expected to rebound this season. The DE duo is also going to be expecting new deals if their play returns to their best season levels and beyond.
Washington is waiting out free agency for a number of reasons that include Wentz’s bloated contract, Brandon Scherff’s expected 3rd round compensatory pick next year, and waiting until after the draft to see what lottery picks they get to scratch off. Defensive line depth was going to have to be addressed either this weekend or during the post-draft veteran purge. One name that Washington looked into during free agency, and could look at again after the draft, is former Carolina Panthers DT Star Lotulelei per Standig. He spent the past 4 years in Buffalo which makes him the perfect player for Washington.
On Payne. The Commanders began quietly letting other teams know he is available for a trade weeks ago, according to sources. No indication they are desperate to move him which is why my report yesterday read "are not expected" to offer Payne a contract extension vs. he's gone. https://t.co/rL13AfMcYp— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) April 27, 2022