The Commanders retained Daron Payne with the non-exclusive franchise tag in February, but they also left the door open for the star defensive tackle to explore other opportunities. Now, a day ahead of the NFL's 2023 legal tampering period, they've ensured Payne isn't going anywhere, signing the Pro Bowler to a four-year, $90 million extension, CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones confirmed.
The news means the veteran defensive tackle market will officially be without its biggest name. Payne, 25, would've been free to negotiate with other teams under the non-exclusive tag. Instead, he gets $60M guaranteed as part of his new deal with Washington, per ESPN, which replaces the tag and runs through 2025.
With an average annual value of $22.5M, Payne becomes the NFL's highest-paid DT not named Aaron Donald. He would've made just under $19M if he'd played the 2023 season under the franchise tag.
Drafted No. 13 overall out of Alabama in 2018, Payne is widely considered one of the top ascending starters at his position. A full-time starter for Ron Rivera's vaunted defensive line since his rookie year, the Crimson Tide product is coming off a breakout 2022 season, in which he logged a career-high 64 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and 20 quarterback hits.
Payne's fellow Pro Bowl D-lineman Jonathan Allen, another Alabama alumnus, landed his own lucrative extension -- averaging $18M per year -- ahead of the 2021 season.