Daron Payne would instantly improve Cardinals defensive line

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Fifth-year professional Daron Payne would be a tremendous addition to the front wall of the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive unit.

When five-time Pro Bowler J.J. Watt was sidelined with an injured shoulder last season, the Arizona Cardinals defensive line transformed into an extremely mediocre group.

Sure, Zach Allen was enjoying a solid campaign. Without Watt, however, defensive tackles such as Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence lost a significant bit of their effectiveness.

Suppose the Cardinals want to avoid that type of dire situation again. In that case, there’s a talented individual who they may be able to acquire—a fifth-year professional who, according to rumors, may be available for the right price.

Daron Payne, a starting defensive tackle from the Washington Commanders, could be on the trade block. Would Cards general manager Steve Keim be interested in orchestrating a deal for the mammoth defender?

Arizona Cardinals should kick the tires on defensive tackle Daron Payne

Payne came to the NFL back in 2018, when Washington nabbed the youngster with the draft’s 13th-overall selection. The 6 foot 3, 320-pounder was a member of two National Championship-winning teams (2015, 2017) at the University of Alabama.

The 25-year-old Payne has more than lived up to his first-round draft choice status. The former Crimson Tide star has racked up 227 tackles, 14.5 sacks, nine passes defended, and 35 quarterback hits during his 64 appearances (58 starts) for Washington.

Imagine an Arizona defensive line that consists of Watt, Allen, and Payne. Suddenly, the front wall of coordinator Vance Joseph’s unit becomes a force to be reckoned with.

According to reports, the Commanders have rebuffed several offers for the productive Payne. Washington picked up the fifth-year option on the veteran’s rookie contract in April of 2021, but there has been very little progress on an extension.

Keim’s main strength as the Cardinals GM has been his ability to improve the roster through trades. The executive has used that tool to bring top-notch players such as Carson Palmer, Chandler Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Zach Ertz to the desert.

There’s no word on what level of compensation it would take for the Commanders to part ways with their highly-coveted prize. However, if the first four campaigns of his pro career are any indication, Payne would be well worth the investment.

(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)

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