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Daron Payne contract creates more than $9.4 million in 2023 cap space

Mike Florio discusses the possibility of the Washington Commanders trading for Lamar Jackson and why it would make sense.

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.