- The Washington Times - Monday, July 26, 2021

Jonathan Allen said last month he hoped to arrive at Washington’s training camp with a contract extension in place. The defensive lineman got his wish.

Less than a day before the team was scheduled to report for Richmond, Washington and Allen agreed upon a new deal Monday — locking in a four-year, $72 million contract with $30 million guaranteed. The signing makes Allen a top-five paid interior defensive lineman and allows Washington to retain a defensive captain who has an important voice in the team’s locker room.

Allen’s new contract also marks the first major in-house signing under coach Ron Rivera. Washington had previously tried to negotiate a long-term deal with All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff, but has failed to reach an agreement for the last two seasons — keeping Scherff under the franchise tag. Now, Washington avoids the same path with Allen and makes a major statement in doing so.

Allen is the team’s first first-rounder to receive a contract extension since defensive end Ryan Kerrigan. 
“Washington for life!!” Allen tweeted Monday.

Allen’s $18 million per year salary puts him behind the Rams’ Aaron Donald, Indianapolis’ DeForest Buckner, the Giants’ Leonard Williams and Kansas City’s Chris Jones as the league’s highest-paid interior defensive linemen, according to Over The Cap.

Allen’s deal also helps keep Washington’s young, talented defensive line intact for another few seasons. Defensive tackle Daron Payne, the team’s 2018 first-rounder, had his fifth-year option ($8.5 million) picked up earlier this summer, while Montez Sweat and Chase Young are under contract until at least 2022 and 2023 respectively. The team also holds fifth-year options on Sweat and Young, which it can eventually pick up.

The defensive line played a big role in the team’s success last season. Washington ranked second in defensive DVOA in part because of a strong pass rush, which forced opposing quarterbacks to get rid of the ball quickly. Washington recorded 47 sacks, sixth-most in the league.

Allen helped solidify the line. Playing next to Young and Payne, Allen can be a terror in the middle. He’s an excellent run defender with a bevy of pass-rushing moves.

While he only had two sacks last year — down from a career-high eight in 2018 — he still recorded 14 quarterback hits, according to Pro-Football Reference. He has totaled 202 tackles in 52 career games with 17 sacks and 21 tackles for loss.

Beyond his impact on the field, Allen has become a leader since arriving to Washington in 2017. He’s been a captain for the last two seasons, using his military upbringing and teachings from college coach Nick Saban to help provide maturity in the locker room. Allen was Washington’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee this past year. He’s involved in charity work in the area, working to prevent youth homelessness — a cause that deeply affects Allen as he was briefly homeless growing up.

Four years ago, Washington officials were thrilled that Allen fell to them on draft night. Once a projected top-five pick, the Alabama product slid all the way to No. 17 due to injury concerns. Specifically, teams reportedly docked Allen over a shoulder issue that doctors feared would only get worse in the NFL.

But Allen has proven durable. His only major injury in the NFL came his rookie season: a foot fracture that limited him to five games. Since then, he’s missed just one game.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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