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Commanders reportedly reach $90M deal with franchise-tagged DT Daron Payne

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 20: Daron Payne #94 of the Washington Commanders stands during the national anthem against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on November 20, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Daron Payne and the Commanders have reportedly reached a long-term agreement. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images) (Cooper Neill via Getty Images)

The Washington Commanders and defensive tackle Daron Payne agreed on a four-year, $90 million contract with $60 million in guarantees, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday.

The agreement arrives after the Commanders placed the franchise tag on Payne. The deal makes him the second-highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL behind Aaron Donald, per the report.

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Payne, 25, reached his first career Pro Bowl after last season, his fifth in the NFL. The Commanders selected Payne with the No. 13 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. They exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie deal prior to last season and applied the franchise tag this offseason before Sunday's news of a long-term contract.

Payne would have earned $18.94 million in 2023 had he played under the franchise tag. If fully realized, his new contract will pay him an average of $22.5 million over four seasons.

Commanders continue to invest in defensive line

Payne anchors a defensive line that projects as a strength for the Commanders. He led the team with a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2022 in addition to 18 tackles for loss, five passes defensed, a fumble recovery and a safety.

Alongside fellow defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, and edge rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young — if healthy — the Commanders boast one of the NFL's most imposing defensive lines. Allen tallied 7.5 sacks last season and joined Payne in the Pro Bowl, his second straight. Sweat recorded eight sacks last season and has 29 over the course of his four-year career.

Young has been limited by injury in each of the past two seasons. But he earned Rookie of the Year and Pro Bowl honors in 2020. When healthy, he has flashed the upside of an elite backfield disruptor the Commanders envisioned when they drafted him No. 2 overall out of Ohio State in 2020.