The Seattle Seahawks have little wiggle room under the NFL salary cap. That will make any trade to acquire a player before the NFL trade deadline a bit difficult.
But every first place team is a potential buyer at the deadline, and NFL writer Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report argued that the Seahawks should be interested in Washington Commanders defensive lineman Daron Payne.
“The Seattle Seahawks could be intrigued by Payne, as run defense has been the team’s biggest weakness (4.9 yards per carry allowed),” wrote Knox.
“Seattle has just $1.1 million in cap space but could be incentivized to make room for a deadline deal. At 4-3, the Seahawks are one of this year’s biggest surprises, as they own first place in the NFC West.”
What Payne Would Bring to the Seahawks
Washington selected Payne with the No. 18 pick in the 2018 NFL draft. He started his career strongly with 5.0 sacks and a 56 combined tackles as a rookie in 2018. But Payne has never really built upon that success.
In 71 career games, Payne has 18.0 sacks, 251 combined tackles, including 27 tackles for loss and 45 quarterback hits.
The Pro Football Focus player grades awarded Payne above average marks from 2018-20. He earned his best overall grade (70.6) from PFF during the 2020 season.
Over the last two seasons, though, his PFF player grade has declined, and through seven weeks this season, he has a 56.8 overall grade.
Interestingly, Payne’s biggest weakness this season has been run defense. Out of the 66 interior defensive linemen who have played at least 50% of his team’s defensive snaps this year, PFF has ranked Payne No. 57 in run defense.
But even if Payne isn’t the best choice to upgrade the Seattle run defense, Payne could help the team’s pass rush. PFF has him ranked No. 28 out of those 66 interior defensive linemen in pass rush this season.
Payne has 3.5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits this season. He’s only 2.0 sacks, 2 tackles for loss and 6 quarterback hits away from new career highs with 10 games still to go.
The Seahawks have 17 sacks this season, which is tied for 10th most in the NFL.
Will Payne Be Available at the NFL Trade Deadline?
The biggest hurdles in Seattle acquiring Payne are whether or not Washington will make him available and the salary cap.
The Athletic’s Ben Standig reported in June that teams inquired about Payne, but Washington refused to listen to any offers.
The Commanders have won two straight to improve to 3-4 since starting the season losers in four of the first five games. While Washington remains below .500 with the other three NFC East teams all having at least five wins, the Commanders are not out of the playoff race.
They could hold onto Payne in order to make a run at the postseason. What happens in Week 8 could impact whether the Commanders sell at the NFL trade deadline on November 1.
If they do sell, Payne is an obvious trade candidate since his contract expires at the end of the season. Spotrac reported he has a $8.529 cap hit in 2022. With only a little more than $1 million in cap space, the Seahawks and Commanders will have to negotiation terms to give Seattle enough room to make a deal.
But if the compensation is enough, a trade is possible even with the salary cap hurdle.