Payne has admired Fitzpatrick since the day he first faced him


When Washington and the Buccaneers squared off in November 2018, Ryan Fitzpatrick had a really Ryan Fitzpatrick-y afternoon.

The then-Tampa Bay starter went over 400 passing yards and also ran for 35 on the ground, but he coupled those major numbers with two interceptions and a lost fumble. Those turnovers are what contributed to the Bucs putting up just three points despite compiling 29 first downs and 501 total yards.

So, the home fans at Raymond James Stadium probably didn't appreciate Fitzpatrick too much after that performance. One guy who did come away from that game impressed by the veteran, however, was Daron Payne.

Payne recently spoke with NBC Sports Washington and was asked to review what his team has done so far in free agency. He focused on Fitzpatrick first.

"I know we played him in Tampa once," the defensive lineman said. "He was just ballin'. Ever since then, I've loved watching him play, so I'm excited to see him with the team."

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If Fitzpatrick can duplicate the production he had over the past two seasons with the Dolphins, which is where he went after Tampa, he will elevate his new offense significantly. Then Payne and the rest of the defensive line can head up the efforts on the other side of the ball, as Washington attempts to become a more balanced operation as opposed to a defense-led one.


Payne also got a chance to touch on the arrivals of William Jackson III and Curtis Samuel, the corner and receiver who were signed soon after Fitzpatrick.

Payne explained how his overall unit is "hungry for more" and believes Jackson III will want "to tune in right with us."

As for Samuel — who ripped Washington apart for 158 total yards at FedEx Field last December — Payne summed up his feelings about the ex-Panther with a one-liner and a laugh.

"Now he can help me instead of hurt me," he said.