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Washington Commanders star Daron Payne to be handed franchise tag

Washington Commanders Pro Bowl defensive tackle Daron Payne was slated to become one of the biggest fishes to hit NFL free agency in less than a month.

That’s now highly unlikely to happen. According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, there’s a 99.9% chance that Washington places the franchise tag on its former top-13 pick.

The window for teams to officially place the tag on impending free agents started on Tuesday. It runs through March 7. But it doesn’t seem like Washington is going to let the process play out that long. It’s in this that tagging Payne will end up costing the Commanders nearly $19 million against the 2023 NFL salary cap.

Commanders head coach Ron Rivera previously talked about how important Payne is to their success on defense and the fact that his organization must now pay out a huge sum to retain the Pro Bowler long-term.

Related: Top 400 NFL free agents of 2023

Daron Payne situation and Chase Young’s contract option

daron payne, washington commanders
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It’s intriguing to look at. Selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Payne didn’t necessarily make too much of an impact in his first three seasons. Despite this, Washington opted to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. The former Alabama star responded big time with a career-best performance in 2022.

  • Daron Payne stats (2022): 20 QB hits, 18 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, 5 passes defended

Those 11.5 sacks were just 2.5 fewer than Payne put up throughout the course of his first four NFL seasons.

Whether it’s paying out the franchise tag in 2023 or signing Payne to an extension, Washington has more decisions it must make on defense moving forward.

The deadline to decide on Chase Young’s fifth-year option is quickly approaching. The former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and No. 2 pick back in 2020, Young has seen injuries derail his career recently. In fact, the edge rusher has tallied a mere 1.5 sacks over the past two seasons (12 games played).

Young’s fifth-year option for the 2024 season is set to be valued at $17.45 million. Is this something Washington will be willing to pay out given the Daron Payne situation and the fact that fellow pass rusher Montez Sweat is also slated to hit free agency after next season? We’re not too sure.