NFC Notes: Commanders, Odell Beckham, Cowboys, Eagles, A.J. Brown

Commanders

Commanders DT Daron Payne made it a point to work on improving his pass rush ability this offseason, especially since he was going into a contract year. It paid off big-time, as Payne has already set a career-high in sacks with 6.5 and has five more games to go. 

“I had a bunch of opportunities to have high-sack numbers before, but I missed them,” Payne said via the Athletic’s Ben Standig. “Now I’m capitalizing on my opportunities getting the quarterback.”

The conventional thinking for a long time is that Washington eventually would have to let go of one of their fearsome foursome on the defensive line — DT Jonathan Allen, Payne, DE Montez Sweat and DE Chase Young — for financial reasons and Payne would be the odd one out. However, Payne’s strong season has Washington rethinking things. 

“We’re going to do our due diligence on the situation and work to get something done with Daron,” a team official told Standig. “We’re hopeful that we can keep him in Washington.”

What might make Washington’s job more challenging is that a number of defensive tackles are due for new deals this offseason. Payne was already going to be expensive but the price could go up even more. 

“We don’t want to put that reality out there,” said an AFC pro personnel director. “They’re going to get paid. It’s going to be a robust market.”

“It won’t be close. Significantly north of ($21 million annually),” said an agent representing one of the big-name defensive tackles due for a deal. “People have f—ed with the tackles compared to the D-ends for too long.”

Cowboys

Matt Lombardo of Heavy.com cites an AFC personnel executive who thinks that free-agent WR Odell Beckham Jr. will sign with the Cowboys.

“It sounds like Dallas,” said the AFC executive. “There’s no way to tell how healthy he is until he’s out there playing for a few weeks in a row. If I had to guess, he could be a No. 3 and make a play or two this season, but wouldn’t think he’s able to become a go-to guy in 2022. For 2023 … He may wind up playing off more reputation than substance. So, I’d say he can be a No. 2 receiver, but he’ll never be a No. 1 guy again.”

An AFC scout also thinks that Dallas is the favorite to land Beckham and the receiver will be able to replicate Amari Cooper‘s former role with the team 

“Odell’s going to Dallas. He won’t bring much this year. It’s a signing for the future. When he’s fully healthy, he’s going to be exactly what Amari Cooper was for that offense in Dallas.”

  • Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy said that the likelihood of LB Anthony Barr (hamstring) returning for Week 13 “looks good.”  (Michael Gehlken)

Eagles

Eagles WR A.J. Brown believes he was a major winner of the trade that sent him to Philadelphia. Shortly after Brown was traded, he signed a long-term contract extension with his new team.

I feel like regardless of how the trade and everything goes down, I feel like me personally, I feel like I’ve won,” Brown said, via ESPN’s Tim McManus. “I say that because I changed my family’s life forever. That’s the goal. Especially growing up from where I’m from. Of course I want to do great and accomplish all the great things, but that’s the reason why we play the game.

Brown admitted that there is an extra degree of significance facing his old team.

I mean, of course it means a lot, but I’ve got to be professional about it and keep my emotions down and just play,” he said. “My job this week is to try to be as consistent as possible. Regardless of who we’re playing, that’s my focus.

Brown is at peace with the trade and expressed his gratitude towards the organization that selected him in the second round of the 2019 draft.

I think when you got through things in this league you learn that it’s a business. Of course early on I wanted to finish my career a Titan. I think I stated that,” he said. “But I learned it’s a business and you’ve got to do what’s best [for you] because they’re going to do what’s best for them. You grow up. And that’s what I did.”

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