Commanders begin offensive line overhaul with Wylie, Gates

Defensive tackle Daron Payne is under contract long term, and now the Washington Commanders are starting to address their biggest need, the offensive line.

After signing Payne to a four-year contract worth $90 million with $60 million guaranteed, the Commanders spent Monday adding depth and versatility with former Kansas City Chiefs tackle/guard Andrew Wylie and ex-New York Giants center/guard Nick Gates.

A person with knowledge of the contract said Washington agreed to terms with Wylie on a $24, million, three-year deal. A person with knowledge of Gates' deal said he got a three-year contract.

Both people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contracts cannot be signed or become official until the new league year opens Wednesday.

Wylie, who turns 29 in August, started all 17 regular-season and all three playoff games for the Chiefs on their second Super Bowl run in four years. He played guard when they won it all during the 2019 season.

Gates, 27, brings similar position flexibility after splitting time at guard and center during his 42 games with the Giants over the past four seasons. Adding Gates is similar to Washington bringing in Wes Schweitzer for interior depth in 2020.

Wylie is the second player to follow new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to the Commanders from Kansas City. Wide receiver/special teams player Marcus Kemp signed not long after the Super Bowl when the Chiefs opted not to keep him.

Coach Ron Rivera and Bieniemy agreed the offensive line needed fixing after the Commanders allowed 48 sacks last season, eighth most in the league. The unit could have a few new starters in front of likely starting quarterback Sam Howell.

Washington in free agency is still looking for a veteran to compete with, push or fill in for Howell if things go wrong for the 2022 fifth-round pick with just one game of NFL experience. That could be Taylor Heinicke if he returns.

There was little doubt Payne was coming back after leading the team with a career-high 11 1/2 sacks. The Commanders put the $18.9 million franchise tag on Payne last month in the hopes of hammering out a long-term deal, and that came to fruition Sunday with the second-biggest contract for a defensive tackle, behind only seven-time All-Pro Aaron Donald.


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Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press