Will Da’Ron Payne actually hit free agency for Chicago Bears?

Chicago Bears-Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears-Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Chicago Bears media and fans have all agreed that one of the best signings the team could make this offseason is Da’Ron Payne. However, that may be putting the carriage before the horse in this situation. While Payne is expected to be a free agent this offseason, we see this every year. An elite player is supposed to be a free agent and then a week or two before the start of free agency, things change and he is off the market. Will this be any different?

Will Chicago Bears have a chance to sign Da’Ron Payne?

Washington will first get a chance to extend him. This could end up in the Bears’ favor because Payne saw his price tag shoot up this season. His pass rush improved tremendously, and he will get a big pay at his age, draft status, and stat production.

In fact, there is speculation around Washington that he will not only get $20M per year, but will exceed that, and likely be closer to $21M or $22M. This could help Chicago because it could price him out of Washington.

This is notable because Jonathan Allen is already making $18M per year. Can Washington give Payne and Allen $40M combined, and can they give Payne much more than Allen? Both could hurt a long-term extension.

Chicago Bears must beware of the franchise tag for Da’Ron Payne

However, what Chicago Bears have to be afraid of is that Washington will franchise-tag Payne. A franchise tag for defensive tackles if $18.9M. Typically the tag is a jump in salary, but compared to his market, the tag would probably be less than what Payne could get.

On one hand, because it is a one-year deal, Washington can not adjust his salary. For a five-year deal, the team can play with the cap. However, if Washington realizes their options are either to pay $21M, lose him for nothing, or pay $18.9M, the $18.9M is probably high on the table of options.

Washington could tag him and then trade him. The team they trade him to could then extend him. That seems far more realistic than Washington just letting him walk.

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The Commanders very well may struggle to work out a long-term deal with Payne, and Payne may end up on a different team. However, the tag and trade is the expected outcome if Payne does leave his team. Otherwise, Washington has to be thinking that letting Payne play on the franchise salary is not a bad deal.

It is very hard to see Chicago acquiring Payne outside of a tag and trade.