The Commanders might have signed defensive tackle Daron Payne to a long-term deal prior to applying the franchise tag. On or before July 15, they could have signed him to a long-term contract. Instead, they agreed to a long-term contract with him today.
The agreement makes $9.427 million in cap space, per a source with information on the terms.
Payne had a cap number of $18.937 million in the past. The cap was set at $9.51 million due to the $28 million signing bonus, which was spread out over four years, and the base salary of $2.51 million.
As the new league year gets closer, the deal frees up the Commanders' cap space by well over $20 million.
We are informed that the Commanders were motivated to complete the transaction immediately and made a "strong" offer to close it today. Therefore, it's possible that they have a strategy in mind for making use of the extra space on the cap on Wednesday, when the new league year begins and the contracts of newly acquired players reach the cap.
Additionally, the Commanders would need the cap space to cover the first year of Lamar Jackson's contract from the time the offer sheet is signed until the Ravens either match it or don't, if they are serious about trading for the quarterback.
As he gets ready to sell the team, owner Daniel Snyder acquires a player who will change the franchise. He owes the buyer the remainder of the fully guaranteed, five-year contract. He gives a double-barreled bird to league members who don't want fully guaranteed contracts for veteran players.
The developments of today do not imply that that will occur. However, if it does occur, the action taken today makes sense.