Heading into the season, Washington COs must weigh the pros and cons of keeping fifth-year defensive tackle Daron Payne on the roster.
Payne is a talented player and an important part of Washington’s front seven, but it seems like for every reason to keep him, there’s a reason to trade him.
Why Washington should keep Payne
Since joining the Commanders in 2018, Payne has only missed one game in his career. He has also started every game as a defensive tackle for the team for the past two years.
Not only does Payne show up, but he also played at a high level. Last season, Payne had a career-best 15 quarterback hits, possibly his most successful season with the team.
It’s clear that Payne plays an important role on defense, as defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio demonstrates. Tweeter earlier this week he defended Payne after he was rumored to have walked away from training.
Del Rio calls Payne a “great teammate” and he looks like someone who plays a key role on the team.
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Why Washington shouldn’t keep Payne
Any reason Payne shouldn’t stay on the roster stems from the business aspect of the game and not from his alleged “walkout” at OTA this week, which has been denied by Payne and other coaches.
Although keeping Payne is an advantage, this could very likely be his last season in Washington, as his contract expires at the end of the season.
On top of that, the team drafted Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis in the second round. That means there’s already a contingency plan in place for when Payne leaves.
There could be a lot of teams that would like to trade for Payne and extend him. The Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos are two teams that come to mind with good reason to target Payne in a trade. The value Commanders could get in a trade for Payne could be much better now than it ever will be.
The decision to trade Payne or not ultimately comes down to a present vs future issue. If COs prioritize the present, Payne will return to his starting spot on the defensive line next season. But if the team is looking to the future, as it has done recently, trading Payne might not be a bad idea.