“99.9 Percent Likely” That Daron Payne Gets the Franchise Tag
We knew the Franchise Tag would play a major role in shaping the Chicago Bears’ offseason. Unfortunately, the early dominos bring unwanted news for anyone hoping Chicago’s football team could pry some free agents from the top of the market. First, it came with reports of the Kansas City Chiefs angling to give left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. the Franchise Tag. And now, it is Washington Commanders defensive tackle Daron Payne leaving the market before he could even make it.
It seems that there is a high level of certainty that Payne is getting the tag:
Welp, you can virtually cross him off the list.
Between Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio and The Athletic’s Ben Standig, there appears to be an overwhelming amount of sourcing sharing that Washington’s football team is retaining Payne via the franchise tag. Awww, dang it. Payne would’ve been a top (if not the top) target for the Bears this offseason. A defensive tackle who would’ve plopped into the middle of Chicago’s “D” is exactly what the Bears need. This unit needs a spark. It could’ve been Payne. And while they can still get it elsewhere, it is a bummer that it won’t come in the form of who would’ve been the best available free agent. Bleh. What a bummer. But we’ll move on.
It might not be much of a consolation prize now, but the Bears still have time (and options) to find their D-line fit. Obviously, there are other free agents we can explore. And we’re definitely not overlooking the potential of adding an impact talent in the draft. But what happens in free agency figures to tweak how Chicago approaches putting together its draft board. Maybe the defensive tackle needs slide up the priority list. Perhaps the Payne news shifts the Bears focus to defensive end. Heck, maybe the Bears dial up the Commanders and ask about a tag-and-trade possibility. Could we have another Jarvis Landry situation on our hands? We’re still early in the free agency process. But the wheels are already in motion.