The Falcons could desperately use another big-bodied defender to go along with Grady Jarrett and Ta’Quon Graham. According to Ben Standig of The Athletic, Commanders defensive tackle Daron Payne is available for trade and could fetch a 2023 second or third-round pick in any potential deal.
Washington sits at 2-4 and looks like one of the worst teams in football, making them more inclined to move off Payne and any other player not in their long-term plans. The former first-round pick is entering the final season of his rookie deal after the team picked up his fifth-year option, and it doesn’t seem likely Payne will be re-signed, given the Commanders’ investments along the defensive front.
Jonathan Allen just received a new deal worth $18 million per year, while Motez Sweat and Chase Young will also command lucrative deals. The Commanders could undoubtedly get a high compensatory pick if Payne were to sign a contract in free agency, but if a guaranteed Day 2 selection is available, they’d have to at least think about dealing him.
This season, Payne has recorded 21 total tackles, five tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, three pass deflections, and one safety. Prior to the Falcons’ Week 6 matchup against the Bengals, I didn’t think Atlanta would be active before the NFL trade deadline. The team probably doesn’t want to give up any draft assets, regardless of the successful start to the season.
However, the Falcons need to improve personnel along the defensive front. Depending on how they want to do that, trading for Payne could be an option. The team is set to have a boatload of cap space this offseason and spending it along the defensive line would be wise.
Instead of letting someone like Daron Payne hit free agency and then bid for his services against other organizations, Terry Fontenot could trade for him and potentially save some money by extending him before free agency begins. At that point, the front office would have to weigh the choices of giving up a valuable second or third-round pick in order to save a few million. There’s also no guarantee the Falcons could extend Payne if they traded for him or sign him in free agency if he hits the open market. These are the factors Fontenot must consider.
If Fontenot would rather draft and develop talent, which is much cheaper in the short term, the Falcons won’t have any interest in trading for someone like Payne — or anyone for that matter.