Update: Daron Payne officially gets the tag
We have applied the franchise tag to DT Daron Payne— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) February 28, 2023
Ben Standig from the Athletic is reporting that the Washington Commanders are expected to use the franchise tag for DT Daron Payne. The team can now work on trying to get him signed to a long-term deal. Ron Rivera has reached out to Payne's agent, but numbers on a new deal reportedly haven't been discussed. If Payne plays on the tag this year, Washington will pay him $18.937 million, the franchise tag value for defensive tackles.
Daron Payne is 25 years old and just completed his 5th, and most productive, season in the NFL. He was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate after compiling 11.5 sacks and 65 combined tackles. He was paired with former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen again, and the duo helped Washington's defensive line have another very good season. Payne's breakout year came as he was finishing the 5th year option Washington exercised last year, and he was looking to get paid what he's worth next month.
Washington turned to the draft last year when it didn’t look like Daron Payne was going to be extended, drafting Alabama DT Phidarian Mathis in the 2nd round. He played 4 snaps(3 defense, 1 special teams) in Week 1 before going down with injury. Mathis suffered a torn meniscus and was placed on injured reserve. He missed the rest of his rookie season, but is expected to be fully healthy for the team’s offseason programs.
The franchise tag window opened up yesterday, and teams have until March 7th to use it on a player. Washington didn't use the franchise tag last year, but did tag guard Brandon Scherff each of the previous two years. He left in free agency last March, signing a three-year, $49.5 million deal with $30 million guaranteed and $33 million in the first two years.
Washington is hoping to avoid playing the tag game with Payne for multiple seasons, and Ron Rivera said he is a part of their future plans. Payne was expected to be one of the top free agent defensive linemen this off-season, and was projected to have heavy interest that could have led to a $20+ million per year contract. Washington will now have time to work on a long-term deal. They will also have the option to trade him if a deal can't be worked out.
Washington is expected to free up $26.2 million with the release of QB Carson Wentz, and there are several other roster moves that can be made to add more cap space. They will also have to make a decision on the 5th year option for DE Chase Young($17.452 million). He returned at the end of the season after missing 22 games due to a torn ACL. That decision needs to be made before the May 1st deadline.
The Commanders are expected to use the franchise tag on free-agent DT Daron Payne, two people with direct knowledge of the situation told @BenStandig.— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) February 22, 2023
Payne was named to the Pro Bowl after a career-best 11.5 sacks and 64 combined tackles last season.https://t.co/8qB4pPIUwA