By Max Harper

As the NFL  owners’ meetings draw closer — March 26-29 in Arizona —Dan Snyder‘s time as owner of the Commanders is coming to an end.

His departure – either through a sale or an unprecedented vote forcing him out of his position – could be hinted at by the team’s recent financial decisions.

The Commanders have delayed the payouts of signing bonuses on their recent player contracts, as detailed by Ben Standig of The Athletic.

Typically, teams arrange contracts so that the first installment of sizeable payouts are scheduled to be doled out within a few weeks of the contracts becoming official. As Standig notes, Washington has followed this standard practice with deals signed in previous offseasons, including left tackle Trent Williams, defensive tackle Jonathan Allen and wideout Terry McLaurin.

However, the team’s monster extension with Daron Payne, which was signed not long after they applied the franchise tag on him, calls for his first signing bonus payment to be delayed until May 12, per Standig.

That date marks exactly two months after the deal was agreed to, and, more notably, is likely to come after a new ownership group is in place to take on the Commanders’ financial responsibilities, including payroll. The same holds true for Washington’s deals with right tackle Andrew Wylie and quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

“Relative to their prior contract precedents, it would seem that they have intentionally delayed the first installment of their signing bonuses,” one former team employee said in an observation of the situation. “[It’s] very plausible that it’s related to the expected timeline of a sale… I think the payout dates are fairly telling.”

The possibility of a vote forcing Snyder out was a talking point during the 2022 season, with Colts owner Jim Irsay noting in October how such a move was on the table. Bidding on the embattled franchise has since taken place, with a shortlist of fellow pro sports owners Josh Harris and Tilman Fertitta being named as potential finalists. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos remains connected to a potential purchase, though reports have pointed to him not being allowed to participate in any hypothetical sales process.

Adding to the recent report that a Commander sale is imminent, NBC Sports’ JP Finlay tweets that the situation now metaphorically sits at ‘first and goal.’ The league’s owners are set to meet next week, so further developments on this front could be coming very soon. As the team’s contract arrangements this offseason suggest, an ownership change remains the likeliest end to the situation in Washington.

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