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Trade Daron Payne, or Pay Him? Washington Commanders Getting Calls

A natural response from other NFL teams? They call the Commanders and make inquiries about his trade-block availability.
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The Washington Commanders front office is experiencing a busy time, both on a standout player who is staying long-term and on a standout player who might not be.

While wide receiver Terry McLaurin and the Commanders have agreed on a three-year contract extension worth upwards of $71 million, defensive tackle Daron Payne remains poised to play out the final year of his contract. ...

Unless Washington opts to trade him.

We have seen no real indication that Washington plans to sign Payne to his own long-term deal any time soon. This doesn't have to be an indication of the organization having any harsh judgment of his value. Their disinterest in such a deal is reportedly not a sign that the team has interest in moving on without him this year; it can simply a matter of trying to juggle the salary cap.

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As coach Ron Rivera recently said just before Payne stayed on the sideline during some OTA work: “When you (pay) a veteran quarterback (as Washington did with newly acquired Carson Wentz), it’s going to impact your salary cap and how you respond to it ... It’s a difficult thing. You try to figure out the best way to be able to pay players, and sometimes you can’t do it right away. 

"And so that’s kind of the situation we’re in right now (with Payne) is we’re trying to take care of certain other things as well, as we go forward, and we’ll see how we can adjust to it. Who knows what happens after that.”

A natural response from other NFL teams? They call the Commanders and make inquiries about his trade-block availability.

The Athletic says "those teams have been rebuffed by the Commanders,'' and there is sense to that, too; Washington has reasons to believe it can contend in the NFC East, and the former first-rounder Payne can be a 320-pound force in the right direction.

Eventually, the Commanders could let Payne go following this season and land a mid-round compensatory pick. But for now? They don't need to pay him. They do need him on the field.