Heading into the season, the Washington Commanders have to weigh the pros and cons of keeping fifth-year defensive tackle Daron Payne on the roster.
Payne is a talented player and an important piece to the Washington front seven, but it seems like for every reason to keep him, there is a reason to trade him.
Why Washington Should Keep Payne
Since joining the Commanders in 2018, Payne has missed just one game in his career. He's also started every game at defensive tackle for the team for the last two years.
Not only does Payne show up, but he's also performed at a high level. Last season, Payne notched a career-best 15 quarterback hits in possibly his most successful season with the team.
It's clear that Payne plays an important part for the defense, as evidenced by defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio's tweet earlier this week defending Payne after he was rumored to have walked away from practice.
Del Rio calls Payne a "great teammate" and he sounds like someone who plays a key role on the team.
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Why Washington Shouldn't Keep Payne
All of the reasons that Payne shouldn't stay on the roster derive from the business aspect of the game and not his alleged "walkout" at OTA's this week, which has been denied by Payne and other coaches.
While keeping Payne would be a positive, it could very likely be his final season in Washington as his contract expires at season's end.
On top of that, the team drafted fellow Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis in the second round. This means that there's already a contingency plan in place for when Payne moves on.
There could be a lot of teams wanting to trade for Payne and extend him. The Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos are two teams that come to mind with reason to target Payne in a trade. The value the Commanders could get in a trade for Payne could be far better now than it ever will be.
The decision on whether to trade Payne or not ultimately comes down to a present vs. future issue. If the Commanders prioritize the present, Payne will return to his starting spot on the defensive line next season. But if the team looks towards the future, like it already has in the recent past, trading Payne might not be a bad idea.