Daron Payne agrees to four-year, $90 million deal with Commanders

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On Sunday, the Washington Commanders made Daron Payne the second-highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL. Payne agreed to a four-year, $90 million contract that includes $60 million in guarantees, according to two people with direct knowledge of the deal.

Payne cannot sign until the league year begins Wednesday. The deal gives him an average annual value of $22.5 million, which trails only Aaron Donald’s $31.7 million annual pay among interior defensive linemen. The $60 million in guarantees is tied with Kansas City’s Chris Jones for the second most among interior linemen, according to Over the Cap.

The agreement ensures the starters on Washington’s defensive line, all first-round picks, can stay together at least one more season, and the prized interior duo of Payne and Jonathan Allen will remain together through at least 2025. If the Commanders exercise Chase Young’s fifth-year contract option, they will have three of their four starters under contract for the next two seasons.

Washington’s defensive line has been the team’s anchor as it has cycled through quarterbacks. The line has developed into one of the league’s most prolific — especially inside. But with its play came the persistent question of whether Washington could keep the group together and still allocate resources to other positions.

“We’ll find that out,” General Manager Martin Mayhew said at the NFL combine this month. “It would be great, wouldn’t it?”

The No. 1 pick in the NFL draft is a ‘dream.’ So is the chance to trade it.

Mayhew and Coach Ron Rivera said their priority going into the offseason was to retain the Commanders’ free agents before turning to outside talent. Payne was atop their list. Last season, he led the team with a career-high 11.5 sacks and had one fumble recovery, five batted passes and 49 quarterback pressures, according to TruMedia.

Payne has improved each year since the Commanders selected him with the 13th pick in 2018, which is in part why the team exercised the fifth-year option on his contract. But his jump last season made him invaluable.

“The guy played outstanding football this year,” Mayhew said in January. “He’s always been disruptive. He’s always been in the backfield. He’s always been around the ball. … It’d be difficult to move forward without him, obviously.”

In late February, the Commanders placed the nonexclusive franchise tag, worth $18.9 million, on Payne, giving them until July 15 to reach a long-term deal. Getting it done before the start of free agency lays the foundation for the rest of the Commanders’ offseason — and their long-term future up front.

“We obviously got to take care of our own first … and then we’ll move into free agency with probably fair deals, and then hopefully we’ll set ourselves up so when we get to the draft, we can do what we want to do as opposed to what we have to do,” Rivera said at the combine.

Although the…

Read More: Daron Payne agrees to four-year, $90 million deal with Commanders 2023-03-12 23:35:42

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