Commanders Agree To Terms With DT Daron Payne

Daron Payne became the first of six players to receive the franchise tag this offseason. That move has not led to a lengthy wait for a lucrative multi-year pact. Payne is signing a four-year, $90MM contract with the Commanders including $60MM guaranteed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).

The 25-year-old defensive tackle was already slated for a significant pay raise via the one-year franchise tag worth just under $19MM this season. Instead, he will now vault himself into second at the position in terms of compensation, behind only Aaron Donald. While the deal is striking due to its size, it comes as little surprise in terms of the sentiment coming from Washington in the build-up to their decision to tag Payne.

Head coach Ron Rivera spoke last month about Payne’s situation, and confirmed that reaching agreement on a long-term deal was among the team’s top priorities. That made him a logical tag candidate, and using it allowed the team to lengthen their negotiating window. Now, before the start of free agency, they have the former first-rounder in place for the foreseeable future.

Payne proved himself to be a productive pass rusher right away, notching five sacks as a rookie. He failed to match the figure over the following three seasons, but he put up a career-best 11.5 in 2022. By adding 64 total tackles and 25 pressures, the Alabama product set himself up well for a payday. That has now arrived on a deal with an annual average value of $22.5MM, making Payne the fifth defensive tackle to eclipse the $20MM-per-year mark.

Donald is comfortably in a league of his own, but Chiefs star Chris Jones is one of several veterans angling for a new deal which could close that gap. Multiple DTs now eligible for new contracts – like Quinnen Williams, Jeffery Simmons, Christian Wilkinsand Dexter Lawrence – are also likely to be affected by this deal. Payne translating his age and production into a deal of this size will boost the market league-wide.

One of several former first-rounders on the Commanders’ defensive front, Payne represents the latest major investment in the unit. While their expensive tandem of Payne and Jonathan Allen at the defensive tackle spot will hamstring their efforts to add at other positions this offseason, Washington still figures to be able to make at least one splash in the coming days, especially if they hold true to their intention of not committing substantial funds to the quarterback position.

Payne will look to remain a productive mainstay of the Commanders’ defense, as the team aims to take a step forward in 2023, a season in which Rivera figures to be on the hot seat. Expectations will be raised for both, with the former now on the books for the long-term future at a substantial price tag.

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