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


On Sunday, the Washington Chiefs 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 will not be able to sign until the start of the new league year on Wednesday. The deal gives him an average annual value of $22.5 million, just behind Aaron Donald’s $31.7 million annual salary among interior defensive linemen. Payne’s $60 million in guaranteed money is tied with Kansas City’s Chris Jones for second-most among interior players, according to Over the Cap’s salary database.

The deal guarantees that all of Washington’s first-rounders on the defensive line will stay together for at least one more season, and that the prized interior duo of Payne and Jonathan Allen will stay together through at least 2025. If the Commanders make the play of Chase Young. fifth-year contract option, they will have three of their four starters under contract for the next two seasons.

Washington’s defensive line was the backbone of the team as it ran through quarterbacks. The line has become one of the most prolific in the league, especially within it. But with his play, there was a lingering question about whether Washington could hold this group together and still devote resources to other positions.

“We’ll figure it out,” general manager Martin Mayhew said at the NFL combine this month. “That would be great, wouldn’t it?”

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Mayhew and coach Ron Rivera said their priority in the offseason was to retain the Chiefs’ free agents before turning to outside talent. Payne was at the top of their list. Last season, he led the team with a career-high 11.5 sacks and had one fumble recovery, five tackles and 49 quarterback pressures, according to data website TruMedia.

Payne has improved every year since the Chiefs drafted him with the 13th pick in 2018, part of the team’s exercise of a fifth-year option on his contract. But his leap last season made him invaluable.

“The guy has played great football this year,” Mayhew said in January. “He was always disruptive. He was always in the background. He was always around the ball. … It is clear that it will be difficult to move forward without him.”

In late February, the Commanders placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Payne worth $18.9 million and gave him until July 15 to reach a long-term deal. Getting it done before free agency sets the stage for the rest of the Commanders’ offseason and their long-term future.

“We obviously have to take care of ourselves first … then we move into free agency with fair deals and then hopefully when we get to the draft we can do what we want to do. do what we’re supposed to do,” Rivera said at the combine.

The deal may ultimately be a smart one for commanders. This year’s defensive tackle free agent class is deep, and each signing could raise the bar for the next.

The deal also allows Payne, 25, to cash in again before he turns 30.

More important: The overall value and guarantees of the deal, Rivera said, suggest the Commanders aren’t deterred by ownership uncertainty in the offseason.

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Washington has made it clear that it is not interested in acquiring an expensive player like Derek Carr (signed with the New Orleans Saints), Lamar Jackson (given a non-exclusive franchise tag by the Baltimore Ravens) or Aaron Rodgers (him). may be commercially available). In this way, commanders have usually turned the most expensive position group into one of the least expensive, giving them the freedom to spend elsewhere.

But with so many first-round picks, the Commanders are faced with tough decisions every year.

The most expensive commander contracts:

They signed Allen to a four-year, $72 million contract in 2021, picked up defensive end Montes Sweet’s fifth-year option in 2022 ($11.5 million) and now have Payne under contract through 2026. Next up is Young, #2. Choice in 2020.

The team has until May 1 to settle his fifth-year option ($17.5 million), and that could have ramifications elsewhere. When asked about Young’s option in February, Rivera said there was no guarantee the team would pursue 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 this young man has cost us dearly because he has played. He did everything right. … Now we say “Thank you; you found it.'”

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