NFL Free Agency Primer: Daron Payne

The regular season has come to a close, and most teams have already begun the complicated process of preparing for the 2023 season. In the coming months, we'll be covering the impending free agents most capable of shifting the balance of power in the NFL.

The Player: Daron Payne

Washington Commanders defensive lineman Daron Payne picked a perfect time to make his first Pro Bowl. The former 13th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft was dominant in 2022, tallying 11.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss, both of which were career highs. He broke out this past year, but he's been durable and effective his whole career: he has appeared in 81 of a possible 82 games since 2018, totalling 26.0 sacks and 291 tackles.

The Fit:

Payne has ideal length and size for an interior defensive lineman in any scheme and a versatile skill set that can keep him on the field for enormous snap counts. His production should make him a coveted prospect for any team with cap space to spare looking to boost their inside pass rush.

The Cost:

Given his breakout season and the Commanders' cap situation, Payne could be a candidate for a franchise tag that would cost his team $18.937 million on a one-year deal. If the Commanders or another team attempt to negotiate a long-term deal, he could earn a contract similar to the four-year, $72 million deal signed by fellow Commander Jonathan Allen in 2021 or the three-year, $63 million extension inked by New York Giants defensive tackle Leonard Williams in 2021.

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