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


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 deal that includes $60 million in guarantees, according to two people with direct knowledge of the deal.

Payne cannot sign until the new league year begins on Wednesday. The deal gives him an average annual value of $22.5 million, trailing only Aaron Donald’s $31.7 million annual salary among center-backs. Payne’s $60 million in guaranteed money ranks second among inside workers with Chris Jones of Kansas City, according to Over the Cap payroll database.

The agreement ensures the starters on Washington’s defensive line, all first-round picks, can stay together for at least another season, and cherished inside duo Payne and Jonathan Allen will stay together at least until 2025. When the Commanders train Chase Young with the fifth-year contract option, they 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 driven through quarterbacks. The line has become one of the most prolific in the league – especially indoors. But with his play came the nagging question of whether Washington could keep the group together and still allocate resources to other positions.

“We’re going to find out,” general manager Martin Mayhew said at the NFL Combine this month. “Would be great, right?”

The #1 pick in the NFL draft is a dream. So is the chance to trade it.

Mayhew and coach Ron Rivera said their priority for the offseason is retaining the Commanders’ free agents before turning to outside talent. Payne was at the top of her 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 data site TruMedia.

Payne has improved every year since Commanders drafted him on pick 13 in 2018, which is one of the reasons the team exercised the option for the fifth year of his contract. But his leap last season made him priceless.

“The guy played outstanding football this year,” Mayhew said in January. “He’s always been disruptive. He was always in the backcourt. He was always on the ball. … Of course it would be difficult to make progress without him.”

In late February, the Commanders placed the $18.9 million non-exclusive franchise tag with Payne, giving them until July 15 to finalize a long-term deal. Doing this before free agency begins will set the stage for the remainder of Commanders’ off-season—and their long-term future ahead of time.

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

The deal could ultimately prove to be a smart deal for the Commanders. This year’s free-agent defensive tackle class is deep, and each contract could raise the market floor for the next.

The deal also leaves Payne, 25, able to start making money again before he hits 30.

More importantly, the overall value and guarantees of the agreement signal that Commanders’ off-season, Rivera said, will not be hampered by ownership uncertainty.

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Washington has made it clear that it’s not interested in selling a high-priced quarterback like Derek Carr (who signed with the New Orleans Saints), Lamar Jackson (who was given a non-exclusive franchise tag by the Baltimore Ravens), or Aaron Rodgers (who might be commercially available). In this way, commanders have turned what is usually their most expensive position group into one of their cheapest, giving them the freedom to spend money elsewhere.

But with so many first-round picks, commanders faced tough decisions every year.

The most expensive contracts of commanders:

They signed Allen to a four-year, $72 million deal in 2021, picked up Montez Sweat’s fifth-year option in 2022 (worth $11.5 million), and now have Payne under contract until 2026. Next is Young picking #2 2020.

The team has until May 1 to decide on its fifth-year option (worth $17.5 million), and that could spill over elsewhere. When asked about Young’s option in February, Rivera said there was no guarantee the team would exercise it.

“That’s what we did with Daron,” he said, referring to Washington’s decision not to extend Payne’s contract early. “It cost us. But it cost us in a good way because the young man played. He got things right. … Now we’re in a position where we need to find a way to say, ‘Thank you; you deserve it.'”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2023/03/12/daron-payne-commanders-deal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_homepage Daron Payne agrees to four-year, $90 million deal with Commanders

Ian Walker

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