The Commanders could have signed defensive tackle Daron Payne to a long-term deal before applying the franchise tag. They could have signed him to a long-term deal on or before July 15. Instead, they signed him to a long-term deal today.
The contract creates $9.427 million in cap space, per a source with knowledge of the terms.
Payne previously had a cap number of $18.937 million. The $28 million signing bonus, spread over four years, and the base salary of $2.51 million dropped the cap number to $9.51 million.
The deal pushes the Commanders well over $20 million in cap space as the new league year approaches.
The Commanders, we’re told, were motivated to get the deal done now, making a “strong” offer to close it today. So maybe they have a plan in mind for using the excess cap space on Wednesday, when the new league year begins — and when new contracts given to newly-acquired players hit the cap.
And if the Commanders are indeed contemplating a possible move for quarterback Lamar Jackson, they’d need to have the cap space to cover the first year of the contract from the moment the offer sheet is signed — through and until the instant the Ravens either match it, or they don’t.
You know our theory by now. Owner Daniel Snyder lands a franchise-altering talent, as Snyder prepares to sell the team. He sticks the buyer with the balance of the five-year, fully-guaranteed deal. He gives a double-barreled bird to those in the league who don’t want veteran players to fully-guaranteed contracts.
Today’s development doesn’t mean that will happen. But if it’s going to happen, today’s move makes sense.