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Newly franchised DT ‘would’ve been on the Browns radar’

Washington has taken Daron Payne off the market

2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The unfortunate thing about NFL free agency is when players fans start to get excited about the Cleveland Browns acquiring are all of a sudden come off the market. Whether it franchise tag or extensions with their current teams, a month or so of anticipation gets squashed quickly.

Even after today’s report that the Browns are interested in replacing John Johnson III with Cincinnati Bengals FS Jessie Bates III, Bates could get the franchise tag again or sign an extension with the Bengals.

Tuesday morning, the start of the NFL combine, we got the first player getting the franchise tag, Washington Commanders DT Daron Payne. Payne was considered one of, if not the, best defensive tackle on the market this year. With Cleveland needing a huge upgrade in the middle of their defensive line, Payne was someone fans were interested in.

Reportedly, so was the team:

Payne was expected to get a huge contract this offseason if he had hit the market. While GM Andrew Berry has a chance to create salary cap space, signing Payne may have been too big of a hit given other needs on the roster.

Jason Hargrave, Dre’Mont Jones, Dalvin Tomlinson and Larry Ogunjobi are among the top players available at the position in free agency.