The leaders put the franchise tag on DT Daron Payne

John KimESPN staff writer2 minutes to read

The Washington captains placed the franchise tag on defensive tackle Daron Payne on Tuesday, making Payne the first player to earn that tag this season, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

If Payne plays on the franchise tag, he is expected to receive $18.937 million. It’s a non-exclusive sign, which means other teams can talk to Payne, but Washington has begun contract talks on a long-term deal, ESPN sources report. The team has until July 17 to do so. After that, the leaders can negotiate with him only after the 2023 season.

Payne recorded a career-high 11.5 sacks last season, three shy of his total over his first four seasons. His previous high for sacks was in his rookie season, when he finished with five. Only two defensive tackles have totaled more tackles in 2023: Chris Jones of Kansas City and Quinnen Williams of the New York Jets.

Payne also finished tied for eighth in the NFL—and second among inside linemen—with 21 tackles for a loss. Teammate John Allen recorded 19 tackles for loss along with 6.5 sacks, making this pair the best inside defensive tandem in the NFL.

Payne, who was selected 13th overall in the 2018 draft, has started 75 games and hasn’t missed a game over the past three seasons. He’s forced four fumbles — and recovered the same amount — in five seasons, though none in the past two.

Payne was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl and was added to the game when others before him could not attend.

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Washington Allen signed an extension before the 2021 season and two more defensemen will soon be available for new deals. End Montez Sweat will be a free agent after the season, and the Chiefs are still hesitant about picking a fifth-year option over teammate Chase Young, who has only played 12 games over the past two years combined due to a torn right ACL and torn patellar tendon.

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